Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Die, by my hand, I creep across the land

I watched Munich last night and enjoyed it, if enjoy is the right word for such a somber movie. The movie starts with the 1972 Olympics murder of Israeli athletes. It then quickly moves to the covert campaign to assassinate those responsible. The Mossad team is initially successful and happy, but as the body count grows then begin to lose faith in themselves and their cause. The movie is told entirely from the view of the operatives, so we see the horrific impact on their lives.

As a movie it works well, the action scenes are tense, exciting and varied. It also plays the paranoia card well, especially as team members start dying. The movie is intensely, but remorsefully violent. There is little glorification in these killings. There is much time given to the personnel who reflect on what it means to hunt other people.

The acting is great as well. Eric Bana (an Australian) continues to amaze me with his both his acting and his ability to pick up accents. Since I am watching Rome as well, I was amused to see Ciaran Hinds (Caesar in Rome) as a understated Mossad agent.

There was a lot of talk about the movie's political stance. It presents a muddled view, which is appropriate. All courses of action have costs, and so does this assassination campaign. I think it presents a generally correct view that aggressive action, covert or overt, leads to new problems. What the movie doesn't address is whether the new problems are sufficient not to pursue it. Much is made of the fact that those killed are eventually replaced. Well true, but people are different. Replacing a highly valuable person is never easy, and the replacement is often less valuable. In any case, the movie stays at the level of the operative so I don't think it can be make the case either for or against the policy. It can make the case that the toll is too great on those chosen to carry it out.

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