Directed by Steven Spielberg
Based on the novel Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorism Team by George Jonas
Screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth
Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Geoffrey Rush, Hanns Zischler
In the wake of the violent massacre of the Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics, the Israeli government is putting together a team to deal with those responsible for the murders. Led by Avner (Bana), the team includes four other Jewish volunteers committed to the assassination of the masterminds of the Munich massacre. Now Avner is leading Steve (Craig), Carl (Hinds), Robert (Kassovitz), and Hans (Zischler) on a dangerous chase around the world to find these men. As they begin to cross names off of their list, these men are forced to deal with the consequences of their work. They’re also forced to deal with the individual costs each of them will pay for this work.
This is a great example of the work of Steven Spielberg (E.T.). The film is based on the novel, Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorism Team by George Jonas (Scales of Justice). The screenplay adaptation was handled by Tony Kushner (Lincoln) and Eric Roth (Forrest Gump). The film includes an incredible cast led by Eric Bana (Lone Survivor). The cast also includes Daniel Craig (Skyfall), Ciarán Hinds (Frozen), Mathieu Kassovitz (Haywire), Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech), and Hanns Zischler (Ripley’s Game). The combination of talent and skill behind this movie led to five Oscar nominations. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Editing, and Best Music.
It’s important to note that I don’t review films based on the historical accuracy of the writing. I have read multiple opinions on this film, and I don’t feel qualified to make a statement about the accuracy with any real authority. That being said, this is a wonderfully written screenplay. The drama, action, and emotion are all interwoven into a story that feels raw and powerful. The writing also does a good job of inter-cutting the story with the events of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. I think much of the success of this film was the willingness to get up close and personal with some very uncomfortable and tragic moments throughout. Overall, this is a wonderfully written movie with a lot to offer.
The acting in this one is equally impressive. I think Eric Bana was an excellent choice for the role, and perhaps a little underrated in terms of the critical reception. Bana isn’t the only one that does a great job in this one. Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Geoffrey Rush, and Hanns Zischler all do excellent work as well. Having seen this film several times, I have tried to find a weak performance, but I’m not sure that any exists. Overall, the entire cast did a great job recreating the era and the people they were asked to play.
The visual and technical elements of this film are also wonderfully done. The fact that this film wasn’t nominated for Best Cinematography is a bit confusing to me. I would also argue that this film should’ve won for Best Music. The score is moving and powerful, complementing the stunning visuals throughout the movie. Overall, there is not much to criticize with the talents of Spielberg, John Williams (Schindler’s List), and Janusz Kaminski (Amistad).
If you’re a fan of historical drama, this is one you need to see. I would also suggest this to fans of Spielberg since, well, it’s Spielberg. If you’re not comfortable with gritty moments, this might not work for you. The film works to bring reality to the screen without any attempts to ease the painful moments. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.
Good review. It’s Spielberg who allows this material to get a little preachy by the end. However, it’s nevertheless compelling to watch.
Thanks for reading again! I think it might have come off as preachy to some, but the point being made was pretty universal in my opinion. Had he taken a side, it might have taken away from a great story.
Great review. I’ve had this movie sitting on my shelf for ages and have yet to get around to it. No idea why. Your review has me moving it up the queue.
Thanks. If anything should keep you from watching this, it’s going to be the mood you’re in at the time. It isn’t a light watch, so make sure you’re ready to invest yourself.
Vengeance is not a pretty thing, even when avenging a terrible crime.
Such a great message, and wonderfully illustrated.