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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This is the tenth entry in a series in which I'll countdown my 20 favorite scenes from the last 10 years in movies. To catch up more with the idea of this project, to see the other entries on the countdown, and to find out how you can contribute, click here.

I think 2005 is far and away the worst movie year in recent memory. It was the first year a saw a lot of films, and in the years since, I've even gone back to see some I missed. There's little to get excited about, unfortunately. Only one film really left an impression on me—Steven Spielberg's Munich.

Perhaps the victim of unreasonably high expectations, the film was thought to be a disappointment both critically and with Oscar voters. It managed a Best Picture nomination, but only by the skin of its teeth, if I remember correctly. Ultimately, it just wasn't the across-the-board smash so many expected it to be, and it's reputation is now that of a minor flop.

Hell, people must not have been watching the same films as me. I think Munich is one of the tensest thrillers of the decade set against an international tragedy with stakes as high as any film. The actions of the five individuals at Munich's center could change the world, and do change their own worldviews for good.

The scene that always stood out to me occurs late in the film, after Avner (a never-better Eric Bana) and his men have cracked. One colleague, Carl (Ciaran Hinds), was killed by a seductive female assassin (Marie-Josee Croze), and the others are beginning to feel the pressure of their mission. Rather than track down another target, however, they go off to The Netherlands to track down this woman in search of a more personal form of revenge. They find her, barely dressed, and after she gets shot, she falls into a chair exposed. Then, one of the men covers her up—only to be stopped by Daniel Craig's Steve who rips open her robe and leaves the woman dead and naked.

I won't be embedding video, so I hope that description described the power of this scene well. It's the ultimate cold-blooded kill and perfectly sums up what Spielberg's trying to say. Clearly, he doesn't support violence, even when it's an in-kind response. A violent act makes you no better than those you are seeking revenge against, as you can see in this case.

This moment is extremely pivotal in Munich. I also know it was the topic of much discussion back in 2005-2006. I think it's one of the most shocking scenes in 10 years—maybe more, and definitely the best in a pretty weak year in cinema.

Back with more tomorrow—a favorite from last year.


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