In 1972 the Olympics transformed from a celebration of sport into a sporting tragedy. On September 5, eight Palestinian terrorists stormed the Olympic Village, ultimately killing 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.
Steven Spielberg spends most of Munich exploring the aftermath of that massacre. Adapted from George Jonas’s disputed book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, the film follows five Israeli agents tasked with hunting down the suspects. Avner (Eric Bana), the agent at the center of the story, receives his call to arms from Prime Minister Golda Meir (Lynn Cohen), and his orders from Ephraim (Geoffrey Rush), a Mossad case officer. The film reaches its most tense—and most difficult—moments as agents carry out the assassinations. Both Palestinians and Israelis took umbrage with Spielberg’s portrayal of events. Some critics described the film as an attack on the Palestinian people. Others dismissed the legendary director as “no friend of Israel.” Those reactions suggest Spielberg may just have nailed this trickiest of topics.