Munich (2005) Steven Spielberg
Production Budget: $75 million
Worldwide Gross: $50 million
Subsequent Earnings: $38 million
I know. If you had asked me what Spielberg film was a bomb I would say something like Hook or maybe Amistad. I would be wrong. Spielberg has never had a massive bomb: even 1941 has made a tidy profit on DVD. And in time, this movie will eventually make a profit too. Currently, it is in the Netflix Top 100 for rentals (#64) and as soon as Universal gets off their collective duffs and re-release the two disc special edition, it will have an interested buyer. Still, it’s a damn shame that this is the movie people chose not to see.
Munich was a project that Spielberg was interested for a long time. The movie is based on an assassination squad used by Israel to kill people involved with the 1972 Munich hostage crisis. Early intelligence from former Mossad agents was that Israel dispatched several assassination squads to eliminate Black September agents and people involved with the planning of Munich. These squads would have several groups that handled different things; the assassinations, the clean up, the making of forged documents, finding the terrorists. The squads temporarily stopped when they killed an innocent person that was mistakenly identified as a terrorist. But they later resumed and in the end, killed 9 of the 11 suspected collaborators. Then a book was written from the testimony of one of the Mossad agents (the character of Avner in the movie) called Vengeance. In Vengeance, there was only one group that did everything. There were many claims that the book was untrue (even though no evidence to the contrary was produced) and the book was released in the fiction section instead of non-fiction. This book however, was used as the template for the movie. Spielberg also used independent research to fill in any holes.
The movie was a race. “The time span between the start of production to the release date in December of 2005 was less than six months.” He wanted to release the film for the holiday market. The movie received mostly rave reviews and was nominated for Academy awards for Best Picture, Director, Writing, Music, and Editing. People still didn’t go. Maybe it was because of stiff holiday competition, or maybe Dreamworks didn’t market it well enough. I don’t know. The movie is doing well on DVD and is receiving great customer reviews.
Is it any good? It’s among his best work. I am a huge Spielberg fan and there are only a few films of his that I don’t like. Munich is just a great movie. Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, and Ciaran Hinds all give great performances. At first glance, the movie seems toned down, but then you get scenes with incredible power and tension. The one complaint I’ve heard is that it is a little too long. While it may need a scene or two cut, that is no excuse to not see this movie.