Munich

If Steven Spielberg must continue to treat his audience as his therapist—that is, as a pliant receptacle for his tantrums of guilty fury—he should know that eventually we’re going to stop paying admission and start tallying billable hours. Munich broods on a covert Israeli reprisal to the slaughter of that nation’s Olympic team in 1972. The mild-mannered Mossad agent Avner Kauffman (Eric Bana) leads a crack team through a spree of assassinations, rubbing out Palestinians who may or may not have planned the Munich bloodbath, but who do prove, disconcertingly, to be mild-mannered themselves. Spielberg trades in hollow, spuriously cinematic gestures and in explicitly topical politics that I suspect will render this movie embarrassingly dated before decade’s end. Angels in America writer Tony Kushner gives the script its flourishes of self-congratulation; presumably, co-writer Eric Roth, who adapted Forrest Gump, handles the cheap emotional corner-cutting. It’s probably no use suggesting a better movie about a Mossad assassin’s crisis of conscience, the Israeli director Eytan Fox’s Walk on Water, which was released last spring. Hell, if you want moral seriousness and good storytelling, in half the time, try the Law & Order spinoffs, in nightly cable reruns.