In 1972, Palestinian terrorists invaded the Olympic village in Munich, killed two members of the Israeli team and took another nine as hostages. A botched rescue attempt turned into a bloodbath in which all nine were killed. Steven Spielberg's astonishing new film, his best for many years, tackles the aftermath of the atrocity, as seen through the eyes of young Mossad agent Avner (Eric Bana) charged with hunting down the extremists who planned the Munich attack.
At first glance, Munich is just a really good thriller. Avner recruits a motley crew of killers that includes Daniel Craig and Mathieu Kassovitz (as a toymaker-turned-bombmaker), then takes them on an assassination tour, disposing of their targets with all the exciting paraphernalia of international espionage. This murderous travelogue is shot with Spielberg's usual expert economy and eye for suspense in a flawlessly recreated 70s Europe. But as the deaths pile up, Avner's soul begins to sicken. The eliminated are simply being replaced, each murder brings terrible reprisals, his dreams are haunted by Munich and he cannot even be sure if his targets are really guilty.
"AN AUDACIOUS POLITICAL STATEMENT"
Beneath its thriller format, Munich is a serious inquiry into the Israel-Palestine conflict, albeit one told in the most brilliantly tuned filmmaking language available. It is packed with cunning metaphorical flourishes, indelible characters and beautiful lines. It is often shockingly callous, occasionally heartbreakingly tender, despairing, even funny. It's certainly the best mainstream thriller since The Insider, and an audacious political statement from a director who has everything to lose. Don't miss it.