Munich (2005)

Eric Bana (Avner), Daniel Craig (Steve), Ciarán Hinds (Carl)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

From IMDB: "Based on the true story of the Black September aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day."

Ok, ok, ok Steven, I get it. Violence only begets more violence. An eye for an eye leaves us all blind. I understand. Really, I do. And I agree with you. Completely. But so much preaching to even the most tolerant choir wears thin and does not sustain 164 minutes, nor does it automatically create compelling filmmaking. Schindler's List is a great film -- not because it is about the Holocaust, but because of brilliant storytelling and cinematic composition. Munich is not great by default just because it deals with a serious and hot button topic.

I know some women fancy Eric Bana, but I find him repulsive. Something about him makes me squicky. Can't be helped. I actually lament the fact he's secured the lead of my bestest boy Henry, opposite the adorable Rachel McAdams as Clare, in the forthcoming adaptation of The Time Traveler's Wife (book reviewed here). Boo! Boo! No Joaquin Phoenix? No Hugh Jackman? Maybe the directors are just not up for sexy, smart, and smoldering?

So that's strike one against Munich.

Otherwise, the anti-violence message had the subtlety of a flying mallet. Let's imperil a child! Let's room with a bunch of other displaced terrorists and swap horror stories! Let's make one of Avner's allies, the vastly underused and South Afrikaaaan-accented Daniel Craig, make racist, pro-Semitic comments. No, let's stop. But Spielberg continued the thread past any logical denouement, following Avner back to Brooklyn where his nightmares of violence continued.

And then there was... the final sex scene. Bana, all sweaty-faced and disgusting, mimic shags his on-screen wife while envisioning the events on the tarmac where the Munich hostages were murdered. Oooh! Powerful orgasms to be had there! Watch the icky man cum to thoughts of brutal murder! No, I'd rather not. Days and days will pass before I can scrub that scene from my head.

All that aside, I enjoyed the performances by Geoffrey Rush, as the man nominally in charge of Avner's actions but unable to control them, and Frenchman Mathieu Amalric as Louis, the strange and untrustworthy (or trustworthy??) contact. Both livened the bitter Bana-flavored scenes with moments of sparkling personal chemistry and nuance.

Also, I appreciated Spielberg's decision to lightly overlay what happened in Munich with Avner's growing disillusionment with his task. I was -4 years old when the hostages were killed, and seeing as how history classes barely made it into the Vietnam Era before annual summer vacations, my knowledge of those events was lacking. So the details of their deaths on the tarmac, concealed until the end of the film, sustained the dramatic tension -- even though the revelation of those details was sandwiched into the icky sex scene.

Slow pacing, dull sequences, and a thoroughly blatant lack of subtlety or original thought made for a rather boring film. Too bad. I dislike when politically left films and history tales, even recent history, fail to deliver any substantial emotional or philosophical punch.

1 comment:

Fang Bastardson said...

Typo in your post. I believe the correct spelling must be "Eric BanaL."

Pretty much agree with your review, all the way down to finding Rachel McAdams fetching (in spite of her bailing at the last minute on a nude Vanity Fair cover shoot with Scarlett Johannsen and Keira Knightly. I mean, if you can't trust your image to Annie Leibowitz, girl, you've got ISSUES!). Plus, I really wanted to see her naked, but maybe that's just me.