R, 164 min.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Tony Kushner, Eric Roth, George Jonas (book “Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team”)
Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zurer, Geoffrey Rush, Gila Almagor, Michael Lonsdale, Mathieu Amalric, Marie-Josée Croze, Lynn Cohen
Well, this is kind of a sober note on which to exit the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but it isn’t really about the Olympics, is it? Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film “Munich” examines the aftermath of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich during which 11 Israeli athletes were killed after being taken hostage by the political terrorist group Black September. In the days following the internationally televised incident, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Mier makes the decision to retaliate with a group of Mossad assassins tasked with killing 11 Arabs linked with the Munich Games massacre.
Steven Spielberg has been adamant that his movie is not a criticism of Israeli actions or even of strike back tactics in general. It certainly isn’t in praise of them, however. In the way it examines the psychological toll on the assassins and the ineffectiveness of their work in terms of breaking down their enemies’ resolve, “Munich” is a devastating account of the conflict involved in exacting revenge for “righteous reasons.” While it’s possible to see how it is necessary to strike back in order to show some sort of resolve against terrorist practices, any sort of action comes with incredibly heavy prices that necessitate the plausible deniability with which they are usually administered.
Spielberg ends his film with a shot that stands strong on the image of the World Trade Center long before our own country’s fateful September morning. This is no coincidence. Of course, we also exacted our “revenge” against those responsible. That resulted in a ten-year manhunt of Osama Bin Laden, a story also depicted without judgment in the excellent film “Zero Dark Thirty”. In both cases, the world does not seem so greatly changed following the measures taken by each country. The question is just how many lives were destroyed in the wake of those events compounding their overall effectiveness as acts of terror.