Oscar Preview: Munich

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By Johnathan Kroncke

Eric Bana and Daniel Craig star in “Munich” (AMPAS)

By Johnathan Kroncke

Steven Spielberg’s latest emotionally charged work is a haunting reminder of a terrible war that continues today.

During the 1972 summer Olympic games, 11 Israeli hostages were taken and killed by a group of Palestinian terrorists calling themselves “Black September.” “Munich” follows the true story of what happened next.

Eric Bana (“Hulk,” “Troy”) stars as Avner, a humble man working a desk job in the Israeli government who is suddenly called upon to lead a team with the simple mission of dispensing of all who were involved in the planning of the terrorist acts in Munich.

Avner is joined by four companions, each specializing in vital skills such as passports, bombs and other weapons. However, during the first assassination of a prominent Palestinian, it becomes quite clear that these men have no idea what they are doing.

Underneath their seemingly glossy coating of international espionage and weapons expertise, Avner and his team know very little about how to accomplish their mission. Fortunately, they are able to pull it together with the help of an independent agency who tracks down their targets and provides the men with whatever they need.

Bana delivers a powerful performance wrought with pain and anguish, showing that he too should be considered among the elite actors in Hollywood. “Munich” also provides a peak into the acting talents of Daniel Craig, soon to be known to the world as James Bond. As Steve, one of the four companions, Craig shows off his skills with a gun and a car, which will surely come in handy for his upcoming role.

The major theme that Spielberg features throughout the film is that the war cannot be ended with violence. The bloodshed in the war between the Palestinians and the Israelis will not be stopped by further bloodshed. Every time Avner and his men kill another Palestinian target, an Israeli plane is hijacked or an embassy bombed.

Spielberg turned down the offer to direct “Memoirs of a Geisha” in order to pursue this story. It is one that is close to his heart not only because he is an American affected by terrorism, but because he is a Jew and able to relate to his people who have been persecuted for thousands of years.

While “Munich” may not garner Spielberg a third Academy Award for his directorial efforts, it certainly deals with a topic that we as human beings can all relate to in one way or another. It is the type of film that stays with you long after you have left the theater and that is a rare thing for films these days. This is a truly touching work that is relevant to this day, despite when it took place.

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