Steven Spielberg's profoundly pessimistic account of the terrorist massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics and the bloody aftermath of tit-for-tat reprisals. The director, while he plainly wants to pay his respects to all parties, has not rid himself of his grandiosity and his self-indulgence. The overextended running time is simply, contradictory though it sounds to say so, a shortcut to Importance, a direct equation of size with significance. And the assorted lightening, whitening, fading effects in the cinematography of Janusz Kaminski (Schindler's List, Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, etc.) call attention to themselves in their inconsistency. For a very large fraction of its two-and-three-quarters hours, however, the action is tense and unpredictable, kept within the straits of credibility by various means: by a consciousness of, if not a strict fidelity to, the factuality of the case; by a care not to let the thrills overpower the aversion to violence; by an accent on the human factor. With Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, and Geoffrey Rush. 2005.

Duncan Shepherd

  • Rated R

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