The good thing about the film is that it accurately depicts the atmosphere of thrilling political phobia often portrayed in 70’s films, thus making the film as if it was made on the era as the event it depicts seems to occur in not so distant time from my perception.
Yet, such a statement might be a backlash on itself. Having seen recent thrillers in which the stories do travel from one continent to another, as initiated by Tom Clancy’s works with the likes of Patriot Games or The Sum of All Fears, and other recent films such as both superb Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Identity, we cannot help seeing Munich belongs to this class. A very unfortunate fact indeed, considering the film has way many potentials to elevate itself in a higher position.
What distinguishes Steven Spielberg’s film to the abovementioned films lies on the pace, that we remove the clock-and-dagger heart-thumping build-up scenes, then we have Spielberg’s reliance on supposedly thoughtful action which gets tiresome by the time we fail to convince ourselves the need of Avner (Eric Bana at his uncomfortable role) and his team to murder the criminals behind the 1972 Olympic attack.
A revenge conceptualized by Golda Meir, then Israeli’s Prime Minister, who assembled her Mossad team is apparent enough on the screen, but the screenplay by Eric Roth and Tony Kushner does not justify the need of this assembly, and by the time Daniel Craig, Matthieu Kassovitz, Bana, or even Geoffrey Rush who leads the team begin to wonder why they are recruited for the assignment, we can only sigh in bedazzlement.
If the indecisiveness of Spielberg as caused by his lack of confidence in the subject, unlike the previous buoyant claim in Schindler’s List, affects many aspects in the film, one of the crucial victims is the cast themselves. Lining up many character actors, only a few of them are listed above, they were lost and taken away from carrying the film as their presence often feels condensed. By the time we begin to emphatize with Avner, a character being given a lengthy supporting plot involving his family, we hardly achieve so as the film gets busy transporting us to another continent, seeing another rmerciless actions.
Thus, the coveted role of a thing that carries the film does lie on the action scenes, which really deserve some accolades in many ways, credits to deft editing by Michael Kahn who does great job in maintaining the atmosphere of the thriller, constantly giving the film a breath of fast-paced action sequences carefully cut to sustain our interest throughout.
Thrilling as it may be, the subject which requires deeper thoughts is finally presented in a carefully-baked manner by the time Spielberg rushes to close the chapter with the historical text seen towards the closing credit, as if to avoid any further open debates.
It hardly leads to any debates though. On the contrary, it only tickles our curiosity from yearning for something more, something to convince us that a maestro will be able to go beyond the serious action, and give the audience something to think about.