"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."
Is it all worth it?
Vengeance is a dirty business. It is the kind of thing we all contemplate, from the smallest gut reaction to the eventual harming of another human being. Yes, it is probably true that in some circumstances it is justified, but at what price?
The new film from director Steven Spielberg debates the issue of vengeance through a struggling man's eyes. That man is Avner (Eric Bana), a patriotic Israeli who is recruited by the Israeli secret service, The Mossad, for a very important mission.
The year is 1972 and 11 Israeli athletes were viciously slain by the Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September while attending the Olympic Games in Munich.
According to what The Mossad tell Avner, his mission is to kill everyone associated with the murders in Munich. They believe that 11 key men are involved in the vicious assassinations.
Avner's mission is so secretive that The Mossad revoke all association and ties with him so he can complete this harrowing task. While on assignment, Avner pulls together a team of assassins and goes to work killing off all their targets. How will this mission change Avner? Is he doing the right thing? How does he know these are the men responsible?
Vengeance is a two-edged sword and no matter how you slice it, someone is bound to bleed. In this film, bleed they do.
Spielberg's keen eye and attention to detail is overwhelming, like a lot of his other pictures, but what seems to be missing from this film is a connection to a human soul. Spielberg has always been a champion with connecting with humanity, but in this film he seems to have abandoned that concept and delivered a harrowing and overly cold film.
It is so cold that there doesn't seem to be any Spielberg in the film. I know the filmmaker is trying to broaden his horizons and try new things, but I always thought that humanity would be a commonality in all Spielberg's films. I saw fluttering seconds and a couple lines here and there that sounded like Spielberg, but none of it was enough to really make a point.
This film is supposed to be about ideas and a tragedy, but instead all we get is a shouting match between two children who happen to be in charge. Does violence beget more violence? If this film is the answer, then the answer is yes. It is no wonder the Middle East has been fighting for generations.
I am not sure that this film should have been made in the first place. It doesn't teach or condone anything – all it does is present the story. This film made me angry, irate, and frustrated that we as an audience have to see this story showcased this way.
I am reminded of another saying, "don't hate the player, hate the game" – in other words, "don't hate the director, hate the film". Excuse me, they are the same thing. Spielberg can't step away from this project and let audiences decide for themselves because no matter how objective he wanted to be, he couldn't and that is why he failed. You know that Spielberg is screaming inside about what he sees in this story, but because he is not allowed to convey any of his passion, the film is deafeningly cold.
I liked some of the performances in the film including Ciaran Hinds, Daniel Craig, and the very restricted Eric Bana. I just felt that I was cheated when watching this film. Spielberg can't do films that lack humanity and emotion, and this film is very evident of that. (2.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.