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Munich


MUNICH is brilliant.

Steven Spielberg has made a lot of great movies that we all know and love. One of my favorite Spielberg films, it's also one of his lesser known.

Through incredible recreations and stellar casting, MUNICH opens with the Black September terrorists infiltrating the Olympic Village in 1972, holding the Israeli athletes hostage and killing them as the world watched.

Spielberg deftly weaves actual news footage into his recreations, blurring the lines and immersing you in the terrorist attack.

In response, Golda Meir and the Mossad hire a lesser known but devoted operative Avner (Eric Bana) to assemble a team of five to hunt down and kill those responsible.

Avner's team is an eclectic bunch.

Daniel Craig is Steve, the most emotional and hair-triggered of the bunch. Ciaran Hinds is the business like Carl, the oldest of the gang with deep passions beneath his calm, business-man exterior. Mathieu Kassovitz is Robert, a toy maker turned bomb-maker and Hanns Zischler is Hans. All expendable, low-level operatives, they become an efficient killing machine under Avner's leadership.

But at what cost? The son of a well known war hero, Avner wrestles with his family legacy, as well as his guilt and concern over the pregnant wife he leaves behind for the mission.

Spielberg is a master at creating action set pieces and he's at his best here, with each target of our team's vengeance providing a different scenario for their assassination and a unique set of challenges for the team and Spielberg to build suspense.

Like a cross between the best of Hitchcock's political thrillers and early seventies classics like "The Day of The Jackal" or "The Odessa File", MUNICH is a terrific film.

Bana is excellent, dealing with the intricacies of their plans while doubts about their methods and his moral compass begin to cloud his drive.

Craig and Hinds are fantastic, providing the ying and yang of patriotic duty and business-like neutrality.

The team of five grows into a family-like unit, making the loss of their members even more powerful when they unfold.

Two-thirds of the way through the film and well into their mission, Avner meets a wealthy father and son team that deals in information. For the right price, they will tell you where anyone is at anytime. They have NO political loyalties and refuse to work with governments.

The brilliance of this portion of the film is in its sudden shift in tone. Avner has been working with the son Louis (Mathieu Amalric) for months when a murder goes wrong and Louis' father suspects that Avner is working for a government. Avner is brought to their family estate to meet Papa, (Michael Lonsdale in a brilliant performance that lifts the entire film) the bond they form challenges everything Avner thinks he knows.

John Williams provides a haunting music score, continuing his long partnership with Spielberg.

The screenplay is fantastic, with playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) weaving a true story with fictional elements, creating characters you care about and placing them in a ticking bomb of suspense that keeps you wound tightly for just short of three fast hours.

Complicated, intelligent and suspenseful, MUNICH is one of Spielberg's best and gets an A+. It also earns a spot in my ALL-TIME TOP 10 FILMS.

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