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Overall Rating

Awesome: 34.91%
Worth A Look36.79%
Average: 20.75%
Pretty Bad: 3.77%
Total Crap: 3.77%

10 reviews, 46 user ratings

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by brianorndorf

"Spielberg still in his blue period"
4 stars

Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” is cold, punch-in-the-gut filmmaking in line with what the director has been chasing after lately. The film is nicely realized, with startling performances and period recreation, and a good investigation into the claustrophobic downward spiral of violence.

In 1972, Palestinian terrorists broke into the Munich Olympic grounds and took eleven Israeli athletes hostage. After a lengthy, tense standoff, slaughter ensued, leaving all the hostages dead, and the peace of the games shattered. “Munich” tells the story of Avner (Eric Bana, “Hulk”), an Israeli Mossad officer who is given a mission to assemble a team and travel throughout Europe hunting down Palestinian “Black September” agents and sympathizers who helped plan the massacre. As the team (including Daniel Craig and Ciaran Hinds) embarks on their assignment, Avner begins to realize the duty of revenge might eventually take its greatest toll on his own life.

Steven Spielberg, still in “serious Spielberg mode” after his summer smash “War of the Worlds,” joins the recent trend of hard-charging political pictures with “Munich.” While unexpectedly distant, “Munich” is unforgettable in its detailing of revenge and paranoia in the international theater.

Opening with a booming, fearlessly violent recreation of the 1972 Olympic siege, it’s evident that “Munich” is Spielberg firing on all his creative and historical engines, permitting the viewer a glimpse of the hell that greeted the Israeli athletes in those dark hours of the night. Gruesome and harrowing, the opening sequence sets a nail-biting tone that only Spielberg could bring to a film this politically tricky and ambitious.

Once Avner is given his orders for retaliation and his team is assembled, “Munich” starts to resemble an R-rated sequel to “Mission: Impossible.” Showcasing their sketchy efficiency carrying out the assassinations, through their camaraderie and teamwork, Spielberg sets out to get the audience on the side of the hit squad early, so their eventual fall from grace has much more dramatic weight. However, there’s no joy to their mission; Spielberg gives the moments of murder a palpable feeling of nervous energy, which quickly carries over into guilt – an emotion Avner is always struggling with. Through gunplay, explosives, and espionage, the team globetrots their way to ultimate revenge, but what are the real costs for these actions?

Spielberg and the script, by Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”) and Eric Roth, explore the devastating consequences of the Israeli reaction through the cyclical nature of violence and terrorism. Especially in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the back and forth destruction appears endless, trapping the characters between the victory they celebrate and the reprisals they anticipate. The toll of the bloodshed is captured strikingly in Eric Bana’s performance, which balances Avner’s proud duty for his country with the sinking horror that the outcome of this retaliation will never truly end the nightmare of violence. As Avner gets deeper into the thick of the hunt, even befriending his morally questionable French informants (including Michael Londsdale), Bana’s desperation is carefully performed, sold with golden Spielberg moments of intricate shot construction, some reaching Hitchcockian heights in their complexity and flair.

“Munich,” for the 160 minute running time, is concrete filmmaking, mixing history and dramatic license wonderfully.

My only real question mark is in a sequence that intercuts the final flashback slaughter of the Israeli athletes with Avner and his wife in the throes of sexual intercourse. Presumably, Spielberg is trying to show emotional catharsis through the force of sexual climax, but it comes off as the one, lone indulgent moment (too Tony Scott for me) in a picture filled with efficiency and hard-fought, cautiously planned integrity.

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originally posted: 12/23/05 14:59:07
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User Comments

12/29/17 Tom Philpott Terrible, terrible movie. BANAVICH AND RUSH ARE TERRIBLE IN THIS STINKER. 1 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell AWESOME BUT 2 LONG 4 stars
9/30/14 KingNeutron Well worth watching - very well done; see it for the history 4 stars
10/18/10 bored mom Bland film for the wise. Reading real-life media reports and history texts is way more fun. 3 stars
12/21/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
10/16/08 BLUTARSKY 2 movie that making you think 4 stars
8/01/08 ben dover awesome acting craigs accent is spot on 4 stars
3/03/08 ladavies I wanted to love this movie, but I didn't. I'm not sure what went wrong. 3 stars
4/10/07 KLAATU very interesting, disturbing but ultimately involving film.4 stars. 4 stars
3/27/07 kathy underheart childress is a selfimportant bore. Loves his own voice more than he loves Spielberg. 1 stars
3/16/07 R.W.Welch Less than gripping account of Round 253 of the Arab-Israeli feud. 3 stars
2/09/07 Stanley Thai A very good film with very suspenseful scenes! 5 stars
10/21/06 AnnieG Oddly edited, but compelling movie. 4 stars
7/12/06 Phil M. Aficionado But for a couple of "turn off" scenes/techniques, brilliant work; I give it 4.5 stars. 4 stars
6/30/06 ALDO i didn't like it b/c bad character development & action get tiresome 2 stars
6/28/06 daveyt enjoyable, well made film. Left me feeling a bit abivalent though... 4 stars
6/26/06 Indrid Cold Spielberg does well with a difficult subject, but the entertainment value is fairly low. 4 stars
6/13/06 MIchael Interesting "serious" Spielberg take on Munich. 4 stars
5/31/06 stephanie willis A mesmerizing film! 5 stars
5/17/06 SteveO Man loses part of his soul in quest for vengeance - seen it all before, but it still works. 4 stars
5/16/06 millersxing insightful and unrelenting; doesn't pull punches or revise history 5 stars
4/18/06 ahmed perfect balanced 5 stars
3/19/06 MP Bartley Unwieldy gluing together of killings and talk about politics stop this being a masterpiece. 4 stars
2/08/06 Kim Anderson a Masterpiece. Even without a literal battlefield, it's the best anti-war movie ever. 5 stars
1/29/06 john bale Bana & Spielberg come of age in this suspenceful thriller on assassinations downside 4 stars
1/29/06 Agent Sands An incredibly well-made movie with action, drama, and laughs. And Eric Bana is hot. 5 stars
1/27/06 Minette G. Wonderful acting by Bana. Does the end justify the means? 4 stars
1/21/06 Suzz Fewer explosions with more insight into the emotions and I'd have liked it more 4 stars
1/20/06 Ole Man Bourbon Tells us what we already know: shit's complicated. Fun though. 4 stars
1/20/06 james Pretentious and boring. The movie needs major re-editing to be watchable 1 stars
1/10/06 kmdewitt Hard to follow. Kept changing cities with no indication. U see Eric Bana's ass :) 4 stars
1/08/06 John B Thriller about patriotism, with emotional honesty 5 stars
1/05/06 Ahnold Too long which takes away a little from the movie 4 stars
1/05/06 Mike V Sorta obvious but I enjoyed it. 4 stars
1/04/06 Simon Conveys the situation in brutal but honest way. Bores/hazy at times, but an admirable effrt 4 stars
1/03/06 Bill First half is a good spy thriller-last half boring .Major failure to keep the story sharp. 2 stars
1/02/06 Judith Outstanding and multi-dimensional. Great Job of directing . 5 stars
12/31/05 Brad Well Done 5 stars
12/28/05 Sandy Dissapointed 2 stars
12/28/05 Bob best film of year 5 stars
12/27/05 MarkElliot story is predictable, but the actors dialogue/development is also 3 stars
12/26/05 Gini How can this much assassination be this boring? Dreadful 1 stars
12/24/05 Blutarsky Spielberg slips on a banana peel and never gets up. 2 stars
12/23/05 ali sss 5 stars
12/22/05 Mark Spielberg is at the top of his game here. 5 stars
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  23-Dec-2005 (R)
  DVD: 09-May-2006



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