My Favorite Movies – Munich (2005)

7 May

By Tanner Smith

No matter how many times I watch this movie, I ALWAYS tense up every time it gets to the part with the bomb, the phone, the wrong person answering the phone, and the desperate race to stop the bomb from detonating! Everything about this scene is masterfully done–the editing, the sound design, the directing, everything about it raises the suspense of this already-tense scene to “Good God get me out of here” levels!

Director Steven Spielberg made “Munich” soon after “War of the Worlds” in 2005. (Actually, it might have been made right after “WotW’s” release–the time it took to plan, shoot, edit, and release Munich was SIX MONTHS!) “Munich” was Spielberg’s attempt to understand the war on terror by using a parallel story from the 1970s–in this case, it’s the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, where a Palestinian terrorist group attacked and killed Israeli athletes. A team of covert, ex-Mossad operatives are assigned to assassinate all involved in the massacre.

Even though James Bond himself (Daniel Craig) plays one of the assassins, this is as far from a Bond movie as you could get. (Actually, as cold as Craig’s James Bond could get, his hotheaded character here is more bloodthirsty!)

Eric Bana stars as Avner Kaufman, the leader of the team. For Avner, patriotism is most important, which is why he decides to leave his pregnant wife for seven months to partake in this mission that takes him and his team across the globe. But as the mission goes on, things get more complicated, especially when his conscience starts to get the better of him. By the end, Avner isn’t so sure what has been accomplished here.

While the fictional setting is the 1970s, it matched the world of the 2000s. When “Munich” ends with a striking image (of what, I’ll leave you to discover if you haven’t seen it already), it all becomes clear what Spielberg has been saying with this film from the start.

Of Spielberg’s most serious endeavors, “Munich” may not be the best (that still goes to “Schindler’s List,” in my opinion), but it’s definitely one of his most accomplished. One of the things that drew controversy amongst this film’s release was Spielberg’s decision to attempt to understand both sides of the war against terrorism without easy answers. But that’s the point he’s making here: there are no easy answers when it comes to questions like when vengeance becomes disadvantageous, when a patriot with the best intentions at heart loses a good part of himself, and whether a war on terrorism can truly be won. So many of these questions, people don’t even want questioned.

But that is why “Munich” is as powerful as it is.

And that’s all I’ll say about it…but I will share this quote from “Knocked Up,” when Seth Rogen and his friends talk about how awesome “Munich” is: “That movie was Eric Bana kicking f***ing ass! You know, every movie with Jews, we’re the ones getting killed–‘Munich’ flips it on its ear! If any of us get laid tonight, it’s because of Eric Bana in ‘Munich’.” I bet Seth Rogen was starstruck when he co-starred with Eric Bana two years later for “Funny People” (which was also shot by Spielberg’s frequent cinematographer Janusz Kaminski)!

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