During the Olympic games of 1972 in Munich, two Israeli athletes are killed and 9 are taken hostage. The world sits around their televisions watching for the outcome. Their hostage takers are 8 Palestinian terrorists who are part of the Black September group. An attempt at rescuing the Israelis athletes at an airport turns tragic and they are all murdered. Most of the Palestinians and two German police officers are also killed.
\After the murders, the Israeli government recruits a number of Massad agents whose job it is to hunt down those responsible for the planning of the hostage taking and to kill them. In a secret assignment authorized by Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (Lynn Cohen – Manhatten Murder Mystery, I Shot Andy Warhol) and given to him by his case officer Ephraim (Geoffrey Rush – Frida, Shine), Agent Avner Kauffman (Eric Bana – Hulk, Black Hawk Down) leads the agents throughout Europe and the Middle East trying to find those responsible.
Avner’s team is made up of agents of very diverse ethnic backgrounds – A German Jew named Hans (Hanns Zischler – Ripley’s Game, Sunshine), a driver who was born in South Africa named Steve (Daniel Craig – Elizabeth, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), a Belgian explosives expert named Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz – Jakob the Liar, The Fifth Element), and the clean up guy named Carl (Ciaran Hinds – The Phantom of the Opera, Calendar Girls). The agents realize that as they start killing those responsible there is a call from more radical Arabs calling for more Israeli deaths. Are the agents avenging 11 deaths but causing hundreds of others?
This is a film that you will love and hate at the same time. At times I felt that this was a great movie and at times a weak one. Like the conflict itself, there are many grey areas. It seems as if this is an attempt by Spielberg in our post-9/11 world to give his two cents worth on terrorism, its origins and how to fight it. Spielberg has been successful in his efforts to make everyone involved seem a victim. At different points in the film we feel sorry for the Israelis athletes, the Palestinians and the Massad agents. He is able to navigate this difficult subject (Israeli/Palestinian relations) while remaining fairly neutral.
This is not to say that Spielberg does not have his own views. Moving from city to city, Spielberg effectively uses newsreels to help to tell his story. This is definitely a film where Spielberg is concentrating on telling the story, though the cinematography does not suffer as a result.
Eric Bana is excellent as the family man who is a Massad agent whose job it is to hunt down the ones responsible for the murders. He is intense, at the beginning sure of what he is doing and then his certainty starts breaking down. Bana does an excellent and believable job with these wide ranges of emotions. The plethora of decisions of the moral persuasion that the agents have to go through are frequently examined.
The potential viewer has to be warned that the film is a long one (almost 3 hours in length) and there is much gore and carnage. It is not of the ‘Saving Private Ryan’ continual onslaught but it is an up close look at murder and violence. The ultimate lesson of this intense film is that violence begets violence or that you cannot fight terrorism (are you listening, George?) with violence This film will probably not make either side of the Israel/Palestinian conflict happy.
- Introduction by Director
- The Mission, The Team
- Memories of the Event
- Portrait of an Era
- The On-Set Experience
- The International Cast
- Editing, Sound and Music