movie film review | chris tookey


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  Munich Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
7.02 /10
Avner: Eric Bana (pictured right), Steve: Daniel Craig
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Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Tony Kushner and Eric Roth. Based on the book Vengeance by George Jonas

Released: 2005
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 164

Steven Spielberg’s Munich is based on George Jonas’s 1984 novel called Revenge, and the trailer makes it look like a straightforward revenge thriller. But really this is an issue-based drama, and the issue is: how should a civilised nation respond to terrorism?
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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The story takes place in the aftermath of the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Allegedly based on truth, the script tells of how an Israeli assassination team tried to track down the planners of the massacre and kill them. The underlying message emerges over the course of two and three-quarter hours: that the Israelis and Palestinians have more in common than they realise. Both parties believe they have the right to a homeland, and aren’t fussy about the means by which they achieve it.

The central tragedy of the piece is not the death of the athletes but the fact that Avner, the leading Israeli assassin (played by Eric Bana), wants to safeguard his homeland but gradually loses his faith in it.

Whether or not Avner’s team really existed, scriptwriters Eric Roth and Tony Kushner dramatise their message effectively. What impressed me most was their bravely un-Hollywood approach to violence. They make clear that even terrorists have families, and that killing affects more than just the assassin and the victim. Most of all, they show that committing acts of violence desensitises the soul, and often leads to even more murderous retaliation.

The film has its heart in the right place, and has something to say to those involved in or obstructing the “peace process”. It is also worth pointing out to the Bush administration, as this film implicitly does, that state terrorism is morally indefensible, even when practised by the good old US of A.

Unfortunately, Spielberg chooses to cloak his message in a fairly routine thriller, that is far too slow, slackly edited and repetitive to make a big impact on the mass moviegoing public. You’d never know it was by Spielberg – it could have been shot by any made-for-TV hack.

Flashbacks are overused, and to little dramatic effect. Some of the juxtapositions in editing – of the Munich massacre cut together with a sex act – are tasteless. The film looks as if it was shot and put together in a hurry.

Eric Bana gives a sincere if slightly colourless performance as the leading assassin, but some of the supporting roles are dismally played. Ominously for fans of the Bond movies, the least impressive performance is by Daniel Craig as one of his sidekicks, a South African Jew with a lust for Arab blood.

On this evidence, Craig is a disastrous choice as the next Bond, and may sink the franchise. He lacks the smoothness and charm necessary for the role, and nothing he has done in the cinema suggests that he has a sense of humour. He looks to me like Timothy Dalton all over again, minus the handsomeness. For James Bond to flourish, he needs to come across as more than a sadistic thug.

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