Thursday, March 02, 2006

Movie Review: Munich

I saw Munich with my brother in late December of 2005. The reason I've waited to review it until now is that it's taken me this long to process what I watched. It's probably the most disturbing film I've seen, and at the same time one of the most morally instructive.

The film tells the story of an Mossad assassin sent to track down and kill Palestinian terrorists responsible for organizing the kidnappings of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. It's based on a book called Vengeance which claims to be the "True story of an Israeli counter-terrorist team." While I believe that the story is a piece of historical fiction (for a thorough debunking see this article), the truth of the film rests in its portrayal of tit-for-tat violence which is a fact of the Israel-Palestine conflict, as well as many others.

And it's the violence in this film that gets to you. Not that it's more gory and any other film I've seen; Spielberg's earlier epic, Saving Private Ryan, has more blood spatering on the camera lens. But it's the shear cold bloodedness of it; watching terrorists beg for their lives before being gunned down leaves you feeling highly conflicted. If they deserve to die for killing those athletes (killings that we also see in graphic detail), then why does it feel so wrong when we kill them?

The actors in the Munich all give fine performances. Eric Bana, Australia's most underrated actor, has come along way since The Castle and gives his best performance to date as the leading man playing Avner, the leader of the hit-squad. The supporting actors are all excellent, but the ones that stood out to me are Israeli actress Ayelet Zorer as Avner's wife, Daniel Craig (the next James Bond) as the most bloodthirsty of the hitman, and Geoffrey Rush as Avner's supervisor. And Steven Spielberg, the director, proves again that he is a master storyteller; and between Munich and Schindler's List he tells both sides of the story.

Munich is a powerfull exposition on the morality of revenge. It pulls out your deepest hatred for violent people and then gives it an emotional spanking as you watch the consequences of acting on those emotions unfold. Though it contains graphic violence, I recommend it to those who are willing to consider the issues it raises.

No comments:

Post a Comment