Rated R; Directed by Steven Spielberg; Starring Eric Bana. Daniel Craig, Ciarin Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Ayelet Zurer, Geoffrey Rush, Hanns Zischler
Director Steven Spielberg is a master at creating suspenseful moments on film and he uses that skill in this fictionalized account of what happened after terrorists killed the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Tense and thoughtful, “Munich” is a disturbing look at terrorism and vengeance.
After Munich the Israeli government decides to take secret action against the men who planned those terrible events. Avner (Eric Bana) is called upon by his government to kill 11 men identified as the planners. Avner agrees to his new role even if it takes him away from his wife who is expecting their first child. Leading a small team of men, Avner begins the hunt and from their first clumsy kill to several more professional assassinations, Avner and his team begin to question if what they are doing is helping or hurting Israel’s cause. They also wonder if their sources are trustworthy.
Each kill is suspenseful and the film offers several nail-biting moments. With a subdued palate, the film takes us throughout Europe, Israel, and Lebanon. Eric Bana is wonderful as the dedicated agent who is hardened by his activities. Daniel Craig (soon to be the new James Bond), Ciaran Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, and Hanns Zischler bring the characters of his team to life with intelligent performances.
Spielberg ratchets up the tension and goes beyond the normal action film scenario. Yet, with all its great moments the movie loses something in its lengthy telling. Between killings we get bouts of philosophizing. Good questions are asked, but the answers come in a heavy handed manner. After the third or fourth assassination, the film loses something. Instead of an emotionally involving film, it becomes more of a mental exercise watching what happens next.