During the 1972 Munich Olympics, eleven Palestinians kidnapped and murdered Israel athletes. Given the international heartache of this terrorism, the Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir (Lynn Cohen) organized retaliation against the eleven Palestinians. Creating a shadow assassination squad that is disavowed by the formal government, Avner (Eric Bana) is recruited to head a cell of five.
The execution of the first terrorist is as efficient as a Sicilian rubout. The five shadow soldiers celebrate with champagne. After each Palestinian hit, the executions becomes increasingly complicated, but the motive behind the targets become confused. The violence becomes personal and at times messy.
"Munich" is a hard film to classify.
While it is a historical narrative, the film relies on secondary sources to tell the story. It is not a feel good adventure movie that promotes vigilante actions or pities the Palestinians who murdered the Israel athletes. There are no big scenes where the good guy throws the bad guy into a trash compactor and makes a witty or wry comment. The future James Bond, Daniel Craig, acquits his screen persona as man of decisive violent action. It is Eric Bana who carries the weight of “Munich” on his shoulders. Bana is perfectly cast as the patriotic, but increasingly conflicted Avner.
Given his tree hugging past of "E.T, the Extraterrestrial" and the "Jurassic Park" movies, Spielberg as of late has come to grips that violence is necessary when defending one's ones home. Yet, Spielberg is conflicted enough with this concept that he and screenwriters Tony Kushner and Eric Roth capture the internal conflict of a man sworn to secret violence. With the last shot of the Manhattan skyline, circa 1973, Spielberg wisely allows the audience to draw their own conclusions with regards fighting terrorism.
If only a Martin Scorsese or a Frances Ford Coppola can produce an authentic Italian Families who happen to be in the mafia, perhaps it takes a Jew to create movies like "Schindler's List" and "Munich." There is a feeling and authenticity to "Munich" that often seems lacking with modern movies. "Munich" is one of the most overlooked motion pictures of the 2006 awards season.