Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Director: Steven Spielberg

Last night I went with my housemates Dave and Steven to see the new Steven Spielberg picture, Munich. Our local cinema does all films on Tuesday night for £2.50 so the bargain hunters smelt a good deal in the air.

The tea-time gnocchi had gone to Dave's head and his excitement at leaving the house was palpable by the time we neared the neon-signed building. Steven predicted queues stretching for miles down the street. As we live in Ireland, I predicted rain and grabbed an umbrella.

As it turned out, there was little rain, and not much of a queue to speak of. We purchased out half price tickets, found the cinema and then seats, almost, but not quite, neck breakingly far forward. We endured some awful trailers for trashy rom-coms before the feature began.

Munich in short is great. Action-packed, but not brainless, poignant without lecturing, fast and exciting. I'm not going to dwell too much on the ideology or political statements the film makes. There are plenty of other bloggers to talk about that. The message of Munich is essentially a call against arms, that violence begets violence, that family is important.

It follows Avner (Eric Bana), an Israeli intelligence agent tasked with killing all those involved in the Munich Olympics kidnap of Israeli athletes. Avner is a young man called to serve his country and leave his pregnant wife. He is a moral man, but as he kills, he becomes both a hardened killer, and acutely sensitive. His young family becomes more important to him as he dispatches the family of others. His new home in the underworld of espionage and assassinations takes its toll; paranoia sets in and almost akin to Jarhead the man becomes incapable of being anything other than a soldier.

Spielberg has returned to form. At one level Munich is just another racy thriller. But it works at a deeper level too: the wrestle for Israel, the wrestle for a man's soul, the questionable use of violence for political ends and the importance of spiritual and biological family. Spielberg's Jewish righteousness will offend some and please others, but whatever way you look at it, Munich is a great film.

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