Monday, February 13, 2006


Movie reviews differ in how much they spoil for the reader. Most people read to decide if they watch, so I'll be veering away from the major, juicy parts of the movie, at the beginning of this review. So, to get the first part out of the way, if you can spare the rough 3 hours and are 13 years old and above, watch it.

Obligatory Plot Summary
Munich is based on real events surrounding the Black September terrorist attack at the Olympic Village during the 1972 Munich Olympics. It follows a team of 5 men formed by the Israeli government to assassinate the 11 men determined responsible for the Munich attack.

Bourne Identity/James Bond/Tom Clancy after hours
I really like the Matt Damon Bourne series especially the last one Bourne Supremacy (best car chase I've ever seen in a movie at the end.) And there was a time when I diligently rented the Bond series 3 betamaxes at a time from the neighborhood video store. I'm not really sure but I might've watched a few of the Clancy Harrison Ford movies. I like the spy, covert mission, international-mostly-European-settings of spy movies. But a thought occured to me after the last two movies of this genre that I saw (Bourne Identity and Supremacy): what goes through the minds of these lonely men after they've quit the job. Well as you can tell in most movies with a sequel, the CIA/FBI/NSA, whatever, will never leave them alone. But that's the glitzy action star take on it. Munich affords an in depth look at what goes on in the minds of ordinary men as they go through the mission, and try to return to their normal lives after the mission.

Particularly gripping is the scene where the team's designated bomb maker is dismantling his tools and explosives and Avner (Eric Bana) is combing through his room looking for planted bombs that are not there. He ends up sleeping in the closet out of fear for his life. Not exactly something you could imagine the suave and sophisticated Bond doing.

Scholarly stuff
I could go on about the political aspect of the film, which is probably one of the major points, but I think the other critics would be better qualified to address this, along with a healthy dose of research into the political implications of the event, as well as the background of the cultural and religious conflicts the film is set in.

My own, barely qualified 2 cents in this area would be, that it's an insight into both sides of the 'war'. Particularly striking to me is the dialogue between Bana and one of the Arab characters they unexpectedly shared a safe house with, where he (Arab guy) talks about how others think that it's just a piece of land, or that having your own country is nothing.

I've felt pretty much the same about the Muslim terrorism in the Philippines, and the separatist movement. Why should they sow a lot of confusion and terror over having their own land and nation. Isn't ARMM enough for them? I guess this isn't an easy debate, else it would have been ended all over the world years ago.

As highlighted in this review by Roger Ebert, Spielberg's evenhanded treatment of the subject has caused both sides in the story to call him a traitor, and I agree that the complexity of the issues is presented well.

Of course, as in any good movie of this kind, the action scenes are well orchestrated and tension-filled. And Spielberg brings history to life once again, as he did with Gump, Private Ryan and Schindler.

Minus point five for the artsy artsy love scene at the end. Watch it and you'll get what I mean.

Links to related sites:
Metacritic gives it a score of 74

Wikipedia entry on Munich Massacre
(interesting to read after the movie, also discusses the book which the movie is based on)

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