‘Munich’ transforms history into an action film classic

Ben Breier

Avner (Eric Bana), wife Daphna (Ayelet Zurer) and new baby in a scene from Steven Speilberg’s Munich.

Credit: Steve Schirra

Cinematic recreations of historical events are a touchy subject in Hollywood. Writers and directors usually go gangbusters with the film, implementing over-the-top plot lines and more special effects than an Alabama Wal-Mart has Dale Earnhardt paraphernalia.

Pearl Harbor, Windtalkers and Alexander are all examples of historical movies gone wrong. Occasionally, an exception to the rule comes along such as Saving Private Ryan, but the bad movies decidedly overwhelm the good ones.

And, as we’ve seen lately, Steven Spielberg is not completely infallible. Over the past few years, he has added mediocre films such as A.I. and War of the Worlds to his resume.

When Munich was announced, I was skeptical – could Spielberg screw up a movie based on the terrorist capture and massacre of the 1972 Israeli Olympic Team? Thankfully, the answer is no. Not only did Spielberg do a great job with the film, Munich ranks right up there with the best films of our generation.

After the events of Munich, the Israeli government is preparing to take a stand against the Arab terrorists responsible for the death of their Olympic team. Avner (Eric Bana) is sought out by the government to lead a team of covert operatives to seek out revenge and kill those responsible.

Avner departs his pregnant wife and meets up with his team, which includes Steve (Daniel Craig of Road to Perdition) and three additional men whose specialties range from making bombs to forging documents. As the plot of revenge progresses throughout the film, the events of the Olympic games are told through various flashback segments.



Starring Eric Bana and Daniel Craig

Written and directed by Steven Spielberg

Distributed by Universal

Rated R for strong graphic violence, some sexual content, nudity and language

Stater rating (out of five): * * * * *

With one key exception that takes place during the ending sequence, the flashbacks are appropriate and allow audiences to grow attached to the events and characters of Munich.

There’s no way around it – Munich is an incredibly graphic movie. Unlike movies such as Hostel where the gore becomes the focal point of the movie, Munich‘s use of violence has much more impact; not only because it is implemented in a tasteful fashion, but because there’s an epic plot with characters that will tug at your heartstrings.

Bana’s role as Avner is impressive – after playing relatively emotionally dead characters in Hulk and Troy, Bana takes it up a notch, proving that he can simultaneously pull off the role of a badass patriot and a humanitarian father.

The most interesting points in the film are delivered during the introspection among Bana’s team of revenge-seeking revolutionaries. Spielberg does an amazing job illustrating paranoia and fear among the squad as they question whether what they are doing is truly just.

With Munich, Spielberg has redeemed himself and can once again be considered among Hollywood’s top directors. Be prepared to withstand a little bit of gore, and you’ll be treated to one of the most rewarding films of all time.

Contact assistant ALL editor Ben Breier at [email protected].