Combustible Celluloid
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With: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zurer, Geoffrey Rush, Gila Almagor, Michael Lonsdale, Mathieu Amalric, Moritz Bleibtreu, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Meret Becker, Marie-Josée Croze, Yvan Attal, Bijan Daneshmand
Written by: Tony Kushner, Eric Roth, based on a book by George Jonas
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic violence, some sexual content, nudity and language
Running Time: 164
Date: 12/23/2005

Munich (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Steven Spielberg's new film takes place after the events of the 1972 Munich Olympics, in which eleven Israeli athletes were held hostage and eventually killed. A man, Avner (Eric Bana) is secretly hired to kill the Palestinian agents responsible. He assembles a team, and over the course of many months, they attempt this seemingly impossible task, made even worse by the fact that new leaders spring up where the old ones fall. Their calm, careful planning becomes increasingly erratic as the job begins to rattle their cool. Scripted by Tony Kushner ("Angels in America"), Munich begins dazzlingly, like a more intense version of Catch Me If You Can (2002), but Spielberg's extreme caution in trying not to offend eventually cripples the movie; he falls back on many of his old bad habits and panders too often to too many people. (In one scene, Avner has a spirited political discussion with a Palestinian man, and later must kill the same man in the line of duty.) Long past the 2-hour mark, Spielberg can't decide how to end the thing. So he stacks up an increasingly bizarre and muddled series of codas and epilogues, leaving us with a completely baffling experience. Even so, there is much to admire here. An impressive international cast rounds out the picture, led by a terrific Geoffrey Rush.

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