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Going for the middle ground

PUBLISHED: 11:26 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:19 03 May 2010

Munich

Munich

GIVEN the subject matter, Steven Spielberg's latest epic Munich was always going to upset some people. Taking as its theme the Israeli intelligence service's assassination programme against the PLO perpetrators of the kidnap and murder of 11 Israeli athle

GIVEN the subject matter, Steven Spielberg's latest epic Munich was always going to upset some people. Taking as its theme the Israeli intelligence service's assassination programme against the PLO perpetrators of the kidnap and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, the film has drawn criticism from both camps, on the one hand accused of glorifying the brutality of the Israelis and on the other for comparing them to terrorists. But what he has really done is play it all with a dead bat. The film is a fictionalised account of real events so escapes factual scrutiny and any moral judgements are largely left to the viewer. It almost feels like a Cold War thriller, rather than a piece of political philosophising. The cast are universally good, led by Eric Bana as the head of the Mossad assassination team, consisting of Ciaran Hinds, Daniel Craig, Mathieu Kassovitz and Hanns Zischler. Together they plot and then carry out their hits, sometimes competently, sometimes not. All these set pieces are expertly handled by Spielberg and the seventies setting is perfectly realised. So Munich is a quality thriller and a solid attempt at tackling a very difficult subject. Spielberg has avoided his tendancy to sentimentalise things or lay on symbolism with a trowel but it is a film which has no answers to the questions it asks. JIM BLUCK

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