Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA/Canada/France, 2005. DreamWorks, Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Barry Mendel Productions, Alliance Atlantis Communications, Peninsula Films. Screenplay by Tony Kushner, Eric Roth, based on the book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team by George Jonas. Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski. Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Barry Mendel, Steven Spielberg, Colin Wilson. Music by John Williams. Production Design by Rick Carter. Costume Design by Joanna Johnston. Film Editing by Michael Kahn. Academy Awards 2005. American Film Institute 2005. Golden Globe Awards 2005. New York Film Critics Awards 2005. Washington Film Critics Awards 2005.
Steven Spielberg’s most hard-edged film since Schindler’s List is this compelling, extremely well filmed recount of the events following the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. A secret revenge squad is assembled by Golda Meier (an impressively accurate cameo by Lynn Cohen, better known as Magda on Sex And The City) to hunt down the men who planned the tragedy, with Mossad member Eric Bana chosen to lead the team. Along with four others, specialists in one form of secret service or another, Bana goes around Europe carrying out assigned hits, but how long is it before the guilt of killing people to avenge murder starts to work against his soul? Bana’s character suffers the wrath of conscience, and begins to see that what he is doing is not cleansing sins but creating more chaos. Spielberg has been the target of controversy for allowing the PLO-friendly side its fair side of the argument, and that is what is most exciting (and worthy of controversy) about this film: it tells us that two wrongs do not make a right and all the rest is just talk. The performances and cinematography are terrific, the dialogue by Tony Kushner is the film’s best asset, with the only drawback being the enormously weighty running time (almost three hours) that greatly overstays its welcome. The cast also includes a lovely bit by Canadian actress Marie-Josée Croze and a brief appearance by the beautiful Valeria Bruni Tedeschi.