By James Lynch

Movies are (in)famous for having justified violence as revenge -- you did something horrible to me, now I’m coming after you – but Munich takes a more thoughtful approach to the issue of an eye for an eye.

Munich uses a horrifying real-life event event -- the assassination of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September – to explore a fictional consequence of revenge. Faced with the enormity of the Olympic murder, Golda Meir (Lynn Cohen) decides that air strikes against Palestinian targets aren’t enough of a response. She authorizes the assassination of eleven Black September leaders that planned the Munich massacre.

The head of the team that will carry out this assignment is Avner (Eric Bana), a former bodyguard and soldier. His assignment is made as clean as possible: no direct ties to Israel, a list of names and massive amounts of money in anonymous safe deposit boxes, kill the people on the list with no civilian casualties, no actions outside of Europe. Avner has a four-person team to carry out the assignment, from a bomb maker to a clean-up man to erase proof that they were there. So Avner says goodbye to his pregnant wife Daphna (Avelet Zorer) and sets out to kill these enemies of Israel.

Avner is the focus of Munich, a man who is very ordinary until his mission begins. While other team members think of their assignment with everything from enthusiasm to regret, Avner tries to consider it just another assignment. He gets information on the whereabouts of his targets from Louis (Mathieu Amalric), a smooth information broker willing to deal with anyone he doesn’t consider affiliated with a government. Avner’s team kills their targets with bombs whenever possible (deciding that bombs get bigger headlines), and the initial attacks are very successful. Soon there are reciprocal attacks against Israel, and the team finds much more collateral damage happening from their attacks. Team members die, Avner wonders if they accomplish anything since those killed are simply replaced, and paranoia begins to set in when the team may be targeted as they targeted others.

Given the grim nature of this material director Steven Spielberg avoids the excess sentimentalism that mars many of his other movies. He focuses on Avner and the effects this violence wreaks on him. Munich avoids any easy answers – there are as many people praising Avner and his team for their actions as there are doubts on its results – though there is a very clear 9/11 reference at the end. The movie is a little long, and some of the assignments become repetitive, but Munich is an intriguing, thoughtful look at the repercussions of violence, no matter how justified it may seem.

Overall Grade: B+

1 comment:

Random Goblin said...

I'm probably going to go see this next week with Mrs. Goblin and some friends. I'm interested.