Munich - Danke Spielberg
| I have been lamenting as of late the disappearance of the Spielberg I knew and loved. The man who was a master of story telling, whose every film was a beautiful and spirited instant classic. The man who knew how to make movies, the kinds of movies that made you love going to the movies. After disappointing failures like AI, Minority Report, The Terminal and the completely overrated schmaltzfest Saving Private Ryan I had lost faith in the man.
In 2005 some of my faith has been restored.
While War of the Worlds turned out to be fun and energizing, it is his second film of the year, Munich, which really captured my attention. Okay, Schindlerís List is still his masterpiece but finally, in Munich, we have a film worthy of the Spielberg I used to love.
Munich is the tale of Mossad agents hunting down and killing Palestinians suspected of being involved in the killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in the titular city. Spielberg has turned this into a thriller with a brain. The film is crafted with the soul of a suspense flick yet it delves into the issues at play here.
Instead of simply pitting the good guys against the bad, Munich makes one thing clear; there are no bad guys, only bad actions. The complications of global politics and human dignity are explored and in the end we are only left with regrets for all the pain and suffering we contribute to the world. Everyone is a good guy in Munich and they are all victims of their own hubris and so called morality. The tragedy is in ourselves.
All of this and an edge of your seat thriller too.
Acclaimed playwright Tony Kushner does an excellent job of balancing his dialogue so that itís intellectual enough to satisfy without being ridiculous. His adaptation of the source material also balances the suspense with the exploration of character and morality that takes this film above and beyond the average thriller.
Unfortunately, the ending gets muddled. I guess when dealing with true stories there arenít always the kinds of story arcs necessary for Hollywood movies. Desperate for a climax the film makers inexplicably turn to a literal one and it goes terribly over the top.
Also, they suffer a bit from Peter Jackson disease; the film should have ended a half an hour sooner. We donít get much extra from the last 30 minutes of the film. The message and resolution were clear before this point.
Still, Munich is a return to form for Spielberg. Itís good to see him making good movies again.