Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner, Eric Roth
Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush
Runtime: 164 minutes
Rating: 78% Fresh
Steven Spielberg’s 2005 effort Munich revolves around the events that took place at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany. During the events, a Palestinian terror cell known as Black September took eleven Israeli athletes hostage, eventually killing them as well as a German police officer. This is where our main character Avner Kaufman (Eric Bana) comes into play. He is hand-picked as the leader of an elite assassination squad whose mission is simple: Track down and kill those responsible for the Black September killings.
Spielberg’s 160+ minute film seems like more of a passion project for the legendary director than some of his latest efforts, and it really benefits the film. This is a Spielberg the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Munich is dark, violent, bleak, and gives the audience very little to chew on in the way of clear-cut answers. Looking at Spielberg’s filmography up to this point, there’s almost literally nothing one can compare Munich to, which is part of what makes this film so special. There’s a scene in the film where the crew raids a compound where three of the targets are hidden. The scene is incredibly to the point, and easily one of the bloodiest and most gruesome scenes ever to be found in a Steven Spielberg film. Tony Kushner’s incredible script and John Williams’ noticeably darker score only adds to the atmosphere, really stressing the bleakness of the film.
The cast includes of host of familiar faces, including Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, and Geoffrey Rush which sounds like the most unlikely cast ever assembled, but they /really/ work effective in this case. Bana in particular shines in the lead role, and is never painted as some sort of hero, because he simply isn’t one. One of the coolest parts of this film is that the crew uses an assortment of inventive execution methods, which all have varying results. These weapons only further the fact that these men aren’t heroes, rather a team simply doing their job the best they can. The atmosphere in the film is incredible, using songs from the 1960’s and early 70’s and costumes of the era to make it really feel like 1972, something that can make or break a period piece.
There /were/ things that simply didn’t work within the film, however. At one point, Bana’s assassination attempt on one of the targets is accidentally thwarted by a group of drunk American’s. This had absolutely no place in a dark film like Munich, and really takes the audience out of the moment. It doesn’t do anything to add to the suspense of the film, because the suspense is already there. There’s also a moment where Bana is on the phone with his infant daughter, and both the direction and score start to feel more like a conventional Spielberg-ian film. This certainly wasn’t a bad or even distracting scene, but it’s one that doesn’t have a place in this film. Overall, I think I can safely say that Munich is easily one of the best Spielberg films I’ve ever seen (this coming from a fan of his work), and one of the best films of the 2000’s. I highly recommend that everybody see Munich. 9.5/10.