HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:93
AT THE TIME OF THIS REVIEW, THIS TITLE IS A BEST BUY EXCLUSIVE AND ONLY AVAILABLE FROM BEST BUY UNTIL MAY 5TH 2015
“Munich” is based on the real life events that happened back during horrible incident of the 1972 Munich Olympics where 11 Israeli athletes were brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists. The screenplay is adapted from the book “Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Intelligence Team” written by George Jones. In this book Spielberg found the basis for one of his most gripping and insightful works since “Schindler’s List”. The film is a taut and tense political thriller that toys with both ends of the spectrums of violence and retaliation. On one hand we have his very obvious Jewish “family” being slaughtered by terrorists, but on the other side we have the Israeli nation responding back and we get to see just what toll that takes on the men responsible for bringing those who did the deed to “justice”.
Right after the evens of 1972 eyes were glued to the TV screen all across the world. Jews, Germans, Americans, French, the whole world was starting in horror at what went on, while the Arab nations cheered for their “heroes”. Immediately after the events, Prime Minister Gold Meir (Lynn Cohen) authorizes a covert operation to take down the men responsible for this heinous act. Using a go between named Ephraim (Geoffrey Rush), they recruit Avner (Eric Bana), the son of a local Mossad legend, to head up the strike team. Getting recruits from around the world, the team consists of Carl (Ciaran Hinds), Hans (Hanns Zischler), Steve (Daniel Craig) and Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz) and their entire goal is to go off the radar and hunt down every single terrorist target they can in the European district.
This sounds easy enough and the mission starts off quite well. They use nearly unlimited funds given to them by the Israeli government and start to off targets. The glee on their faces is quite palpable as the men start to get into the groove of things. They’re nervous at first, inexperienced at this sort of thing, but the shock and nervousness wears off as they revel in the success. However, as time goes on, things begin to get a bit muddy. Pieces of their soul start to wear off as the kills rack up. The 5 men start to look at their job and wonder if it’s really worth it. Mistakes happen, innocent lives are taken and the end result is starting to look less and less glory filled. Avner even has a heart to heart conversation with another covert agent on the enemy side that gives light to Spielberg’s take on having a home, and BELONGING somewhere.
With only a few kills left things go from bad to worse. Carl gets killed by an assassin and soon afterwards Hans bites the bullet as well. Avner is becoming more and more frustrated with the upper brass and at the same time more and more desensitized to the violence that he’s committing, much to his own chagrin. The end of the film is bittersweet, as the entire mission is called into question and the realization that revenge only begets more pain and created a hole in Avner’s heart that may never go away.
Spielberg paints a beautiful picture here, never taking sides in the conflict, but rather pointing out just how destructive revenge can be. No matter how justified it may seem at the time. I was wondering just how much of a “side” Steven would take considering his very passionate contacts with the Jewish community. It literally oozes from every pore of his filmmaking and my fear was that he would take the side of the Mossad agents and revel in the violence taking place. A sort of Israeli revenge fantasy for him so to speak. My fears were laid to rest the moment I saw this on DVD, as we see him taking a very balanced and very compassionate position for both sides of the equation. The little conversations that the 5 man strike team have between each other shows them struggling with the violence, the feelings of revenge, and later on in the film, the aftershocks that occur when things hit the fan. The discussion with the Arab PLO agent in the hallway is one of the seminal points of the movie, as things go from perfectly ok, to seeing just how badly the effects of their mission is on the individuals. Friends start dying, emotions come to the surface long since thought buried and feelings that SHOULD be there are disturbingly absent.
I’ve always been a fan of Eric Bana, but this is one of his best works in my opinion, as he plays a very nuanced character in the form of fictional character Avner (who is based off real life Mossad agent Yuval Aviv). The subtle touches to his performance add that layer of depth that really pulls you into the story. Daniel Craig, Ciaran Hinds and the rest do an excellent job as the rest of the team, but Bana’s performance really binds the crew together and gives them that special touch. “Munich” is unfortunately one of Spielberg’s lowest grossing films in his career, but stands as one of the best movies he’s done, coming very close to “Schindler’s List” in terms of impact on the viewer. He crafts a well done political thriller that asks just the right amount of questions and uses his trademark depictions of brutality to get the point across.
Rated R for strong graphic violence, some sexual content, nudity and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=38817[/img]The Blu-ray release has been made even more exciting by the fact that this Steven Spielberg classic has been given a brand spanking new master, and one that looks like it was handled with kid gloves. The 2.39:1 AVC encoded image looks LEAGUES better than it’s already excellent DVD counterpart from almost a decade ago, with startling clarity and the lack of digital manipulation that was prevalent back in the early 2000’s. Colors tend to be a tad desaturated and color graded to look like the 1970’s, but the detail is through the roof, including a nice health layer of grain that is a personal signature from Spielberg. There’s a scene during the movie that shows a close up of a woman’s mouth with red lipstick and you can see every little hair, every fiber on her lip and the slight sheen differential of her lipstick as it saturates the lip pores. Soft is something I’d never describe with “Munich” as the film maintains a steady level of detail that doesn’t drop the entire time. Black levels are inky black and showed no signs of crush or washed out levels on my 120 inch screen. Simply put, “Munich” looks as if it was shot yesterday, and goes to show what a properly remastered catalog title can look like.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=38825[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track is another example of the effort that went into the film, as it is simply superb from beginning to end. There are plenty of dialog scenes in the movie, so much so that you’d expect a dramatically front heavy experience, but the audio knows when and where to throw around its weight as the gunfire and bomb explosions, along with the hustle and bustle of the European locations light up the surround channels with some excellent immersion and directionality. When the bombs go off your subs are going to shake the couches and vibrate nails out of your drywall, and the impact of car doors and the thud of a helicopter’s blades are just as impressive. The little sonic nuances that make a good track great are littered throughout, giving us an incredibly immersive experience. I really liked that for once, gunshots actually sounded like gunshots instead of howitzer cannons. Each weapon carried a distinctive weight and power behind the sounds, and while there is a little bit of “oomph” added to some of them, the weapons actually sound like real life guns. It’s these little details that enhance the film and give it a more visceral feel. Excellent track from beginning to end.
• Introduction by Steven Spielberg
• The Mission, The Team
• Memories of the Event
• Portrait of an Era
• The On-Set Experience
• The International Cast
• Editing, Sound and Music
“Munich” is one of Spielberg’s most underrated gems. It’s both highly impactful emotionally, but also an excellent political thriller that likes to give both sides to a story. Steven’s Jewish background and impeccable eye for detail leaves the viewer in awe at the passion and dedication behind his film making talents. “Munich” is rough, it’s raw, it’s exciting and it’s disappointing all at once. During the 164 minute runtime you’ll run the gambit of emotions and come out feeling emotionally drained, but satisfied at the same time. The Blu-ray itself is a work of art, with one of the best catalog remasterings that I’ve seen in quite a long time. Combine a great movie with a great looking/sounding disc and the excellent extras and we have a recipe for success. This is one of those must watch movies, that in my opinion is easily upgraded to a must buy for Spielberg fans.
Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, Ciarán Hinds
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Tony Kushner, Eric Roth
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS 5.1
Runtime: 164 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 17th 2015 (Best Buy Exclusive), May 5th 2015 (Wide Release)
Buy Munich On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Munich On Blu-ray at Best Buy
Recommendation: Must Watch
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