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Munich (R)

Release Date: December 23rd, 2005 by Universal Pictures.
The Cast: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zorer, Geoffrey Rush, Gila Almagor, Michael Lonsdale, Mathieu Amalric, Moritz Bleibtreu, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Meret Becker, Marie-Josée Croze, Yvan Attal.
Directed by Steven Spielberg.

BASIC PREMISE: After Palestinian terrorists kidnap and murder Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Avner (Bana), a Mossad agent, must track the terrorists down and assassinate them. Based on a true story.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Munich suffers from a convoluted, confusing plot that spends too much time on action scenes with very little suspense and character development. The opening scenes show the kidnapping and murder of the Israeli Olympic athletes. Soon after, Prime Minister Golda Meir (Cohen) sends Avner to lead a secret mission to assassinate the terrorists. He leaves behind his pregnant wife (Zorer) to serve his country, so there’s plenty at stake besides his own life. The rest of the film feels like a James Bond movie as he and his team plant bombs and shoot terrorists while making sure not to leave any evidence behind. Avner’s assistants include Steve (Craig), Carl (Hinds), Robert (Kassovitz) and Hans (Zischler). Although there’s plenty of action sequences in the second act, it often feels redundant to the point of becoming excruciating. None of the scenes feel true-to-life because there’s simply not enough to establish character development. The excessive violence ruins most of the second act so that it just feels shocking rather than truly surprising. Everything just seems overblown—pun intended—and lacking in subtleties. Eric Bana fails to hook you into the story with just a mediocre performance. On a positive note, Geoffrey Rush, gives a great performance in a small role as Avner’s case manager. The cinematography is quite impressive with a few stylish shots and zooms at interesting angles.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Munich ’s muddled message about whether the Palestinians are to blame for the ongoing violence or the Israelis. Spielberg hesitates to pick a side, but, in reality, no human can truly be neutral. What neutral really means is that either he hasn’t thought things through or he’s just too afraid to share his opinions. By the end, you’re left feeling empty without having gained anything insightful during the running time of two hours and forty minutes.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Minimal character development and too much action. Also, why would Golda Meir choose such a weak assassin who leaves a lot of emotional baggage (i.e. his pregnant wife) behind? Avner’s vulnerability just feels like a contrived plot devise inserted just for dramatic effect but ultimately lacking in logic.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Excessive, repetitive violence and action without enough drama, character development or insight makes for an unrewarding, unmemorable experience. Spielberg has officially lost his mind.


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