Spielberg does do a decent job of portraying the Palestinian terrorists as human, though they don't have a lot to do in the film other than smile, offer a cigarette or two, and blow up. In one extremely contrived sequence, Avner and his team find themselves sharing a house in Greece with a group of PLO members. While the scene does include a somewhat interesting (albeit simplistic) ideological conversation, it's ruined by a radio showdown that ends with the two groups learning about the healing power of Al Green.
As the body count increases, so does Avner's doubt and paranoia. Fleeing to Brooklyn (where his wife and baby daughter live) he exorcises his Munich demons by imagining the execution of the athletes while he has aggressive sex with his wife. With buckets of sweat flying off his body (in slow motion, naturally), his orgasmic thrusts are perfectly synchronized with the murders. To call the scene ham-fisted would be an understatement, though Spielberg saves his most offensive, most manipulative shot for the very end, where he clobbers you over the head just in case you didn't get it for the last two and half hours. Invoking 9/11 to make a point is an even cheaper tactic than threatening to blow up a little Arab girl.
Munich is neither fish nor flesh. It has the makings of an interesting political thriller, but instead of giving us a Z or Day of the Jackal, Spielberg felt he could both entertain and bring peace to the Middle East. As a meditation on vengeance, the problems of terrorism/counter-terrorism, and the Israel-Palestine situation, it is substantially lacking in original ideas, and its moral/ethical discussions never rise above the painfully obvious. Its attempt at even-handedness, to not reduce matters to black and white issues, is ultimately its downfall, for what we are left with is a dull grey. Had Spielberg been brave enough to actually take a position, we might have wound up with something a bit meatier than this obvious bit of Oscar-bait. Art will never solve the world's political problems, and neither will Steven Spielberg's ego., ,
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