Steven Spielberg asks us what does home cost? What is the value of life? What lengths must we go to ensure safety for our country, our ideals, or our families?
Munich is an thoroughly haunting film that depicts the terrorist attacks at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Spielberg painstakingly recreates these horrors so that we might see their barbarity in full. He also details the retaliatory effects from the Israeli government's secret unit of assassins who hoped to avenge the Munich attacks by killing the 11 Palestinian terrorists who organized the attacks.
Munich is part historical and meticulous in Spielberg's attention to detail, while also delving into the emotional stress that the Israeli assassins underwent along with the dehumanization their Palestinian enemies. The fascinating aspect is that both sides, Israel and Palestine, are humanized as real people with complex beliefs, ideals, missions, goals, and a unified desire for an independent country. They all wanted a home. They all had families. It is an incredible movie that takes the time to appreciate and attempt to understanding the other side's story.
The acting from Eric Bana, Ciaran Hinds, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, and Mathieu Kassovitz is truly extraordinary. They each represent complex characters with hopes and dreams. They are all given realistic motivations and reservations about their assignment. They each beautifully perform their respective parts with subtle detail and deep emotional impact. Spielberg balances excellent performances from the entire cast. Munich boasts not only Eric Bana's best performance ever, but also Ciaran Hinds as well. You get to witness the horrors of terrorism, assassination, espionage, gun combat, explosive detonations, and the deterioration of Bana's mind. The effects of his work destroy his character's peace of mind. He slowly breaks down wondering was it all worth it. Paranoia. fear, anger, exhilaration, uncertainty, and cunning are all on full display in Munich.
Munich also incorporates many long panning shots, unique parallel edits, tense still moments, and beautiful close ups. Spielberg's eye for gorgeous cinematography and camera angles persists in stunning fashion throughout Munich. The establishing pans of the visited cities are so cool as characters will walk down an entire street with the camera steadily following them the whole way down. It's astonishingly skilled camera work in every scene. Munich is so well filmed, you'll be breathless in every scene, after every sequence, alongside each nerve testing situation. You are experiencing these instances of violence right alongside the assassination squad members.
Additionally, John Williams score is totally unique to his storied career of composing music for films. It's dark and haunting, adding to the tense situations of each scene. His musical cues parallel the action and violence with intense swells and nervous suspense with every moment. William's score is also sonically unique in his career as he leaves his classical routes for a modern, dynamic, and bombastic aural assault on your senses. It's impressive and keeps you on edge for Munich's duration.
Finally, Spielberg's Munich is perhaps his last great classic film. He proved that he could still make a great, engaging, and indeed, enduring cinematic statement even in 2005. Not until he returned with War Horse, Bridge of Spies, Lincoln, and more recently, The Post did Spielberg shine as brightly. Still, Munich is even more mature and profound in its message and portrayal of violence. Spielberg's comprehensive and thoughtful perspective makes Munich as relevant and gripping as when it was released in 2005. For an inspired take on terrorism and retaliation, watch Steven Spielberg's masterful Munich.