Munich (2005) – Justice or Revenge?

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The only things we knew about this movie before watching were that, Steven Spielberg directed it, had some good actors, and that it had something to do with Germany. Munich is based on a disturbing event in human history and the movie does not shy away from the troubling nature of these events. Warning: This movie is not for everyone, it contains nudity and disturbing images. The source material in nature is very sensitive and is not for those looking for a “fun watch” with family or friends, but can be used to spark some very good conversation.

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Munich tells the story about the murder of eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team by Palestinian terrorists, and the retaliation from the Jews. The movie follows the leader of Operation Wrath of God Avner (Eric Bana), who was appointed by Israeli officials to track down and kill those responsible for planning the Black September Massacre. Spielberg tells the story of these five men pursuing to bring justice, or revenge? … for the death of the Eleven Israelis. The acting and directing are equally gripping, and the writing sets up incredibly suspenseful scenes. Munich is not another revenge flick about some guys, going to kill guys, who killed their guys, but goes deeper into the all too real hatred between Palestine and Israel. The creators of this movie ask the hard questions about whether these events were righteous by the Jews, and left the final decision up to the viewer.

The movie has a simple and clear plot but figuring out the morality statement the movie is making could keep you up at nights. It is important while watching this movie to know that Steven Spielberg is a Jew. We do not believe he (Spielberg) condemned the activity of what these men did but rather showed the moral complexities of the situation and the toll it took on those who carried the decisions out. The supporting cast does a fine job making their characters believable and Eric Bana is very effective in the lead. Because of the ethics of this movie being revealed through the characters, the fine acting was a real reason this movie was a success. Throughout the telling of the assassinations many questions are asked about these men and their actions, Are these men capable? Are these actions Just? Through the answering (or leaving unanswered) of these questions the characters are developed and changed, and gives you a dilemma in answering the question yourself, Is this justice or is this revenge? Spielberg masterful uses the characters to ask questions about the morality of the acts, and to look back with a neutral perspective.

Final Thoughts: Munich is a spectacularly made film. Spielberg uses many tools to further this movie such as symbolism, diverse characters, and thrilling action/drama sequences. The film delivers compelling dialogue countered with fantastic action scenes that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Our only problem with the movie was the flashbacks to the initial attack through Avner’s (Eric Bana) perspective, mainly at the end. These scenes initiated the thought that the first attack is what haunted Avner, which would to an extent. The real thing that would haunt this character would be his part in the retaliation killings, even if they were just. Despite this, Munich is another superb film delivered by Spielberg. If you are looking for a movie that will not only entertain (which it does), but make you think and lead to some worthwhile discussion, check it out with caution because of the previously stated “nudity and disturbing images”.