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At its core,Munichis a straightforward thriller. Based on the bookVengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Teamby George Jonas, it’s built on a relatively stock movie premise, the revenge plot: innocent people are killed, the bad guys got away with it, and someone has to make them pay. But director Steven Spielberg uses that as a starting point to delve into complex ethical questions about the cyclic nature of revenge and the moral price of violence. The movie starts with a rush. The opening portrays the kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes by PLO terrorists at the 1972 Olympics with scenes as heart-stopping and terrifying as the best of any horror movie. After the tragic incident is over and several of the terrorists have gone free, the Israeli government of Golda Meir recruits Avner (Eric Bana) to lead a team of paid-off-the-book agents to hunt down those responsible throughout Europe, and eliminate them one-by-one (in reality, there were several teams). It’s physically and emotionally messy work, and conflicts between Avner and his team’s handler, Ephraim (Geoffrey Rush), over information Avner doesn’t want to provide only make things harder. Soon the work starts to take its toll on Avner, and the deeper moral questions of right and wrong come into play, especially as it becomes clear that Avner is being hunted in return, and that his family’s safety may be in jeopardy.

By all rights, Munich should be an unqualified success--it has gripping subject matter relevant to current events; it was co-written by one of America’s greatest living playwrights (Tony Kushner, Angels in America) and an accomplished screenwriter (Eric Roth); it stars an appealing and likeable actor in Eric Bana; and it was helmed by Steven Spielberg, of all people. While it certainly is a great movie, it falls just short of the immense heights such talent should propel it to. This is due more to some questionable plot devices than anything else (such as the contrived use of a family of French informants to locate the terrorists). But while certain aspects ring hollow, the movie as a whole is a profound accomplishment, despite being only "inspired by true events," and not factually based on them. From the ferocious beginning to the unforgettable closing shot, Munich works on a visceral level while making a poignant plea for peace, and issuing an unmistakable warning about the destructive cycle of terror and revenge. As one of the characters intones, "There is no peace at the end of this." --Daniel Vancini

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review by . April 29, 2009
Having lived through the coverage of the slaughtered Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics, I felt like I was experiencing the actual events as they were occurring over again. Speilberg did an excellent job using stock news footage from the tragedy and overlaying actors into recreated scenes. Though these events are actually shown piecemeal throughout the film, the actual story is about what transpired afterwards. The Israeli government hired a hit squad to track down and eliminate 11 individuals …
review by . June 06, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Balance, depth of investigation, engaging, at times edge-of-the-seat      Cons: Unnecessarily long, moral ambiguity hamfisted at times      The Bottom Line: I never would have expected a man with a child-ish/like eye to be able to make a film that wallows in vast moral grayness.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      For about thirty years, the overwhelming …
review by . November 15, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Having lived through the coverage of the slaughtered Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics, I felt like I was experiencing the actual events as they were occurring over again. Speilberg did an excellent job using stock news footage from the tragedy and overlaying actors into recreated scenes. Though these events are actually shown piecemeal throughout the film, the actual story is about what transpired afterwards. The Israeli government hired a hit squad to track down and eliminate 11 individuals …
review by . June 19, 2006
"Munich" is powerful and perhaps one of Spielberg's most compelling and thought provoking work. He weaves a tapestry of political and social threads focusing on terrorism and the cost of violence. "Munich" is truly amazing in balancing linear storytelling and horrific acts of violence, demonstrating the impact of the aftermath. Spielberg's "Munich" seen through the eyes of Eric Bana's Avner is a powerful allegory that even in the most just and noble fights against terror we eventually become that …
review by . May 22, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Steven Spielburgh's "Munich" is a fearless classic. He takes the 1972 Olympic slayings of innocent Israeli athletes and recreates the ordeal in all its horrifying detail. We get some of the footage from ABC's "Wide World of Sports" to create authenticity, but the reinactment has all the immediacy and horror of "Schindler's List" and more. After the outrage, one of Golda Meier's trusted bodyguards (Eric Bana) is summoned to join a team of assassins meant to seek vengeance on the perpetrators. The …
review by . May 11, 2006
Attempting to understand what drives people to kill other people for any reason is, in the pit of the soul, a challenging enigma. Whether that 'reason' is war between countries at odds, protecting one's self when endangered, revenge or vengeance for deeds perpetrated by 'the other', for panic in the moment of survival - each of these feels wrong despite the fundamental belief to the contrary at the moment of killing. MUNICH is about killing, about vengeance, about protection of 'home', about existence …
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