Steven Spielberg's Munich.

Reviews of the latest films.
Dec. 22 2005 11:51 AM

Death of a Hit Man

Steven Spielberg's Munich and the hell of getting even.

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Munich reinforces the idea that—great Miltonian allegories notwithstanding—the notion of evil has become profoundly maladaptive. Today, saying our enemy is "evil" is like saying a preventable tragedy is "God's will": It's a way of letting ourselves off the hook for crimes committed in our name. Not incidentally, it's also a way for our enemies to let themselves off the hook.

Munich has been regarded in some quarters as an affront: How does Spielberg have the audacity to make a commercial thriller that questions the very concept of retaliation? And while we're on the subject, how does he have the audacity to make a sci-fi picture like War of the Worlds, which uses a Martian invasion to evoke the trauma of 9/11?

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Well, it's too bad we don't have more mainstream narrative filmmakers with that kind of audacity. Munich is the most potent, the most vital, the best movie of the year.

David Edelstein is Slate's film critic. You can read his reviews in "Reel Time" and in "Movies." He can be contacted at slatemovies@slate.com.