In the Dark

Keeping the Promise

Munich
Produced and distributed by DreamWorks and Universal Pictures
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by Eric Roth and Tony Kushner

Munich is Steven Spielberg’s account of Israel’s retaliation against the Palestinians who masterminded the kidnapping and murder of 11 of their athletes during the 1972 Olympics.  He has brought all the enormous resources of his craft to deal with his subject.  His passion, commitment, and hopes are evident in every frame.  He wants nothing less than to make his story a litmus test to reevaluate Israel’s role in the world.  As such, Munich should be a thoroughly provocative film, but it only partially succeeds.  Despite some brilliant sequences, it’s often muddled, mawkish, and embarrassing, marred as it is by Spielberg’s besetting virtue: decency.  Spielberg has mounted excellent and frequently thoughtful entertainments, but only occasionally has he displayed the ruthlessness required to create genuine art.  Even Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan are seriously flawed by his inveterate need to be nice and be liked.  These are good instincts, certainly, but they often handicap artistic ambition.

In Munich, Spielberg gives us a highly fictionalized treatment of the Mossad’s alleged assassination mission based on a...

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