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PCR # 300  (Vol. 6, No. 51)  This edition is for the week of December 19--25, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Starring: Eric Bana, Michael Lonsdale, Daniel Craig, Lynn Cohen and Geoffrey Rush
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hours 34 mins

"They're all gone." With those three words, broadcaster Jim McKay informed the world of the tragedy that took place during the 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich, West Germany. Disguised as athletes, eight members of the terrorist group Black September broke into the Olympic Village and attacked the Israeli wrestling team. Taken as hostages, they were transported to the airport where a bungled attempt by the German authorities left five terrorists, nine athletes (two were killed during the initial attack) and one German policeman dead. Shortly afterwards, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (Cohen) orders a secret group made up of former Mossad agents to hunt down and kill the men responsible for the attack. That mission is the story of "Munich."

With a wife at home and a baby on the way, Avner (Bana) is content with his job as a Mossad agent. Summoned to a meeting with some of Israel's top leaders, he learns that he has been chosen to head a group that will be charged with avenging the massacre in Munich. He is told that to accept the assignment, he must resign his position and not tell anyone, even his wife, what he will be doing. An impassioned plea from Meir convinces him to take the job. Soon he and his four man team find themselves in Europe, where intelligence tells them the suspected killers are. Avner soon learns that information can be bought and soon finds himself involved with a man everyone calls Papa (Lonsdale). As the group begins their mission, they find that information is bought and sold both ways, jeopardizing both the mission and his team member's lives.

"Munich" could have been a very straight ahead action film, full of guns and explosions. But director Spielberg has cast the film with an extraordinary group of actors, all of whom deliver excellent work. Bana, probably best known from the film, "HULK," shows an emotional range I wasn't aware he possessed. Avner is a man who knows he has a job to do and one that will endure anything to get it done. Whether calmly setting up the group's next mission, or dissolving into tears when he hear's his daughter's voice over the phone, Bana is the heart (as well as voice and conscience) of the film. His fellow agents deliver very believable performances, with Daniel Craig standing out among them. I had some reservations when Craig was recently announced as the next James Bond, but his work and appearance here put all of my doubts to rest. As Papa, Lonsdale is a quiet man who genuinely cares for those he deals with. Rush does well as the go between for the group and the government and Cohen brings to life the quite strength that so embodied Golda Meir.

Long-time readers know my thoughts on Steven Spielberg. I consider his second feature, "Jaws," the greatest film ever made (that's my opinion, so please don't send me nasty notes). Director Sydney Pollack once told me (in 1984) that Spielberg would never win an Academy Award until his peers took his work seriously. Twenty-one years later, and with two directing Oscars on his mantle (for "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan"), "Munich" gives him a great shot at number three!

A powerful film that tells an even more powerful story, "Munich" is clearly one of the best films I've seen this year. With 2006 right around the corner, it may be THE best! On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Munich"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "Munich" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.