A little friendly advice: when you’re in the cinema watching this flick, don’t stand up, wave your hands in the air and shout “Allahu akbar!” It doesn’t go down well.
Palestinian terrorists hold hostage and ultimately kill a group of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, prompting a Mossad agent Avner (Eric Bana) to track down the assassins in the tragic aftermath.
Director Steven Spielberg kind of seemed like an odd choice for this type of material, since it is a relatively action/thriller type, set in the 70’s but it seems a lot like his other films. Except not as good.
What Spielberg does right here is that he does an amazing job when it comes down to creating the right amount of tension for the whole film and each individual scene. I actually was on the edge of my seat wondering just what was going to happen next and the way Spielberg just throws us and himself into the mix of suspense, is very compelling and works well for a lot of the more subtle and trickier scenes.
The film also looks beautiful and shows that Spielberg not only has a knack for creating a good story, but also creating a very beautiful picture to look at. There are a lot of areas this film takes place in and the production and costume design really adds a lot to the whole vibe of 70’s Europe. So many films that are based on the 70’s, just look lame and don’t bring anything new at all to the look of it’s story, but somehow the production designs had me feeling as if I really was there after all.
The problem that Spielberg runs into with this film is that it almost seems like it’s never going anywhere, especially within the last hour. I won’t lie, the first hour and say 15 minutes had me totally on the edge of my seat and riveted, but when the last hour for this film (the film is a staggering 165 minutes long), I just felt like Spielberg got lost as to where he wanted his story to go and just let there be random scenes of violence and messages that are way too heavy-handed.
The messages here are good as it talks about how how the killing and “victory” we want with any war is worth killing and dying for. Spielberg also does a very fine connections between Israel of 1972 and of America today, and how the quest for getting rid of terrorists is basically the same, with nothing changing. These are all good points but they get so muddled and so blatantly obvious that it’s almost way too much for you to believe, let alone enjoy.
There’s this very dumb and pretty obvious scene where these Mossad agents find themselves sharing a safe house with a bunch of Palestinian terrorists, which practically gives this film a chance to show us that if they just put their problems aside with no violence whatsoever, it would be a lot easier for things to get done in this world as well as getting along with each other. This scene also allows a nice little monologue between these two camps, but it’s used so obvious that it’s really hard to care.
The cast here is what really keeps this film running, especially Eric Bana as Avner. Bana owns this film and shows exactly why he deserves more roles like this because even with a lot of the sillier scenes this film has, especially by the end, Bana makes it seem real and builds this compelling character up more and more as the film goes on. Great performance by this dude, and it shows why The Hulk was just a fluke. Daniel Craig is good as the angry voice of reason; Ciarán Hinds is good here as well and plays the man with a conscience, who’s been in the game so long named Carl; and Geoffrey Rush isn’t here too much, but still does a great job with every scene he has as Ephraim, and it’s pretty cool to see him play such an unlikable character.
Consensus: Munich shows Steven Spielberg’s strengths for a compelling story, good performances from the cast, and deep messages about important subjects, but it goes on way too long and obvious that it feels cliche, and something that starts to lose its thrill as you get to the half-way mark.