Following the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, a squad of Mossad agents was established to assassinate the Palestinian ringleaders of the plot. ‘Based on true events’, Munich follows the actions of this squad and its leader Avner (Eric Bana). The film cuts across Europe and the Middle East as we follow killers, informants, spies, diplomats, bomb experts and ‘fixers’, with many layers of intrigue, subterfuge and suspicion. Actions considered right and decent quickly become those of desperation, blind faith, zeal and circular violence, and we are very quickly shown that in such circumstances no one can really claim the moral high ground. Pilloried by many for blatant Oscar-chasing, it’s always difficult to escape the film-snob trap of dismissing great cinema, but Munich is hard to deny. There are some minor matters of annoyance, confusing sexual conceits, and a giveaway John Williams score but the film maintains a sense of class. It’s shot in a deliciously believable 70s style, complete with tight t-shirts, unfortunate hairdos and blocky Mercedes and there are even funny foreign covers of well-known Western songs! The film also has some very convincing performances, especially from Geoffrey Rush and new Bond Daniel Craig, whose Afrikaaner accent would’ve melted the heart of the staunchest Springbok.
Avner and his firing squad soon become disillusioned with killing, seeing few results and only more death on all sides. What follows is an excellent portrayal of the motivations of either side. Avner begins to question his emotions, friends, family, and even the Jewish state itself… Avner learns through a clever twist to respect his enemy, realising they’re both brainwashed tools dying for hopeless ideals- a line of thinking rarely seen in the mainstream press, let alone the two dimensional ideological world of Hollywood cinema.
Munich is all about lessons – man’s pitiful hypocrisy, the stupidity of revenge, and the very obvious point that all extremism is inherently bad. Overlook certain elements, minor Spielberg-isms that creep in here and there and see this film. It won’t change the world, but hopefully you’ll be provoked into the horror of feeling something.
DIRECTED BY STEVEN SPIELBERG
Paramount, Reading Cinemas, Regent