24. MUNICH (2005)
Release Date: December 23, 2005
Chronology: In another of Spielberg’s years of doing both an action-packed blockbuster and an awards-courting drama, Munich came out six months after War of the Worlds, and directly before Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Box Office: $47 million ($58 million, adjusted for inflation)
Oscars: 5 nominations (including Best Picture), 0 wins
Premise: Based on a declassified true story, Munich follows a team of assassins assembled by the Israeli government, to avenge the PLO’s “Munich massacre” at the 1972 Summer Olympics.
Over two hours?: A good 45 minutes over two hours, and it feels even longer
John Williams Score?: Yes
Father Issues?: Plenty. Among other things, Avner (Eric Bana) grapples with sending his daughter away, he becomes a surrogate father to his fellow assassins, and a character breaks into a rendition of “Papa was a Rollin’ Stone”
War?: There’s no actual war, although the entire movie is about covert political retaliations and government-sanctioned assassinations
Special Appearances: Daniel Craig, Mathieu Amalric, and Geoffrey Rush
Fun Fact: Ben Kingsley was originally cast as Ephraim. The previous year, Spielberg decided to change the ending of his movie The Terminal, which led to a production delay on Munich. Kingsley had a previous commitment to play Fagin in Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist, so had to exit Munich, leaving the role open for Rush’s casting.
Best Line: “Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values.”
Verdict: As an objectively critiqued film, Munich is good. It’s also Spielberg’s dullest, slowest, and most emotionless movie. Accuracy and importance notwithstanding, Munich’s biggest flaw is its failure as either or entertainment. The tortured performances from Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, and others are good; the cinematography’s impressive; and in one or two scenes, when the movie comes alive, Munich feels like classic Spielberg. Such moments are few and far between, though, leaving a nearly three-hour-long movie feeling even longer.
Rating: 3½ stars / 5