Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


I was finally able to take in a showing of Munich the other night. While I thought the movie wasn't bad, I didn't think it was great either. There were some items I had big trouble with, but there was also a lot of good stuff about the movie too. Here are some random thoughts:
  • It's a hell of a lot better than War of the Worlds. It isn't every year that you get two Spielberg films, and this year Munich is the much better of the two.
  • Poor Geoffrey Rush. He's pretty good in this movie, but everytime he was onscreen all I could think of was Captain Barbosa, and his "I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request" line from Pirates of the Caribbean. The cast as a whole did pretty well. Eric Bana is pretty much Eric Bana; if you like him, this movie shouldn't change your opinion, and if you don't like him, this movie may or may not sway you. Ciaran Hinds I liked initially, but as the film progressed his character was the one saddled with the burden of questioning the ethics of their operation. Hinds' performance was good, but the writing of the character brought him down later in the film.
  • Some of the film was difficult to understand/not well explained. For instance, these men are a Mossad (Israeli intelligence) hit team, so why would they take orders from their informant? One of the people they go after is the man who replaced one of the people they killed, and they go after this guy because their informant told them to. I didn't understand. Perhaps if I was more intimately familiar with the history of the whole story it would have fit better for me, but as a casual viewer, it seemed odd.
  • The movie featured two Bana-sex scenes. I was surprised that a Spielberg movie would have one, much less two sex scenes! I think that's a new Spielberg record. More on this topic further down.
  • The assassinations were interesting and well done. This, along with the intrigue parts of the film (competition between intel agencies, being the hunters or the hunted, who are they getting info from, etc), I thought were very strong.
  • I don't understand why people would think this film is anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. The agents question whether they are doing the right thing by killing people without seeing the evidence these people did anything, but that question relates to any targeted killing, as I have brought up in the past. Also, Bana's character questions whether or not these people would have been more useful if they had been questioned for information (another subject I brought up in that linked article). I don't think that Munich is a condemnation of Israeli tactics, I think that it's simply trying to raise questions of whether or not it's the best way to do things. Here's some thoughts from Spielberg on the film and controversy.
  • Another notion brought up in the film is whether or not the killing of terrorist leaders, a tactic called "leadership interdiction," is a good idea, as these people are always replaced and sometimes the people who replace them are worse. While I think this is a great question to ask, it doesn't do anything for me personally as I have extensively studied this issue, along with the ones raised above. If you've spent an abundance of time studying terrorism, insurgency, counter-terrorism, and counter-insurgency, then Munich might not do a whole lot for you. If you haven't studied these topics extensively, and you don't have a great deal of familiarity with them, then Munich has some great "food-for-thought" notions in it, and I think that makes the film worth seeing.
  • Not being an expert on what went down exactly regarding the Black September hostage-taking at the 1972 Olympics, I can't say how accurate or inaccurate the film is in that respect. It's based on Vengeance, which I have read has been heavily refuted (but sometimes books that talk about black-ops are refuted because they're too close to the truth). I can say that the scenes dealing with the hostages are pretty brutal, and you feel badly for what happened.
  • The part of the film I hated the most was the second sex scene. It was inter-twined with the killing of the Israeli hostages and the botched rescue attempt! So, as Bana is pumping away on his wife, you're seeing people getting killed and helicopters getting blown up, which was just asinine. It was terrible filmmaking. I usually try to avoid spoilers when talking about movies, and I don't think mentioning this scene is a spoiler. There was another scene which really got on my nerves, but I think describing it would be a spoiler, so I won't here.
Overall, I liked the movie, but I wasn't as happy with it as I was hoping to be. I thought the film might be a contender for the Top Ten Movies of 2005 list, but it really isn't. The sex/killing scene took the film down an entire point for me, and if I had to assign a point rating to Munich, I'd probably give it a 6.5 to 7.

Coming soon: The Top Ten Movies of 2005! Watch for it!


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