In the aftermath of Black September's assassination of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich games, Prime Minister Golda Meir okays a black-box operation to hunt down and kill all involved. A team of five gathers in Switzerland led by Avner, a low-level Mossad techie whose father was a war hero and whose wife is pregnant. It's an expendable team, but relying on paid informants, they track and kill several in Europe and Lebanon. They must constantly look over their shoulders for the CIA, KGB, PLO, and their own sources. As the body count mounts -- with retribution following retribution -- so do questions, doubts, and sleepless nights. Loyalties blur. What does it mean to be a Jew?
The benefit of Hinds sight
IRISH actor Ciarán Hinds has defended Steven Spielberg's controversial new movie Munich as courageous and important.
And he revealed the film had a special resonance for him because he grew up in battle-torn Belfast.
Hinds, 52, who plays one of the Israeli hit team in the film, said: "Steven knew he was putting his head above the parapet. He must have been aware what that might cost him personally.
"It's as brave as you can get because he absolutely didn't need to."
The movie Munich is the story of the vengeful aftermath of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Olympics held in the German city.
It deals with reprisal missions by the ruthless Israeli intelligence service Mossad, whose agents assassinated at least 11 people alleged to have been involved in the atrocity, but has encountered a storm of controversy.
Spielberg has been attacked by both Palestinian and Israelis over his perceived political sympathies and has been accused of historical inaccuracy.
But Hinds, who plays Carl in the movie, described it as "a great story worth telling".
"It's a story with a moral 1 dimension I could visualise. The main characters are Jewish but distinct as individuals," he said.
Hinds was a young man growing up in Belfast when the Troubles erupted and when the terrible events, at the Munich Olympics took place.
He said: "I understood in a way. We were caught up in this struggle of two tribes, locking horns with the middle ground getting wiped away. The year 1972 was quite a sectarian one. Bloody Sunday happened, internment was in place and there was no end to the tit-for-tat killings.
"You have all this stuff happening on your doorstep, then something like Munich happens and you think 'What's going on out there'?
"You suddenly become aware of all these other groups and huge struggles going on outside your own country.
"Because of this, the whole idea of the film interested me.
"It has a way of looking at history that isn't black and white."
When the film was released in the US, it was criticised by some Jewish groups for suggesting a moral equality between the terrorist attack and the Israeli response to it.
The movie opens by saying it was "inspired by real events" and Spielberg has argued it is a work of art and not a documentary.
It follows Avner Kauffman, the, purported leader of the Mossad hit team carrying out the revenge killing of Palestinians.
Spielberg and scriptwriter Tony Kushner credit the controversial book, Vengeance, by the Canadian writer George Jonas in 1984, in the film's credits.
Hinds - he stars as an FBI agent with Colin Farrell in the big screen version of Miami Vice due out soon - added: "Steven presents a story that asks a lot of questions but doesn't serve up answers on a plate. That is very important."
Co-stars: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Tony Kushner and Eric Roth
Run-time: 164 mn
Release date: 23 Dec. 2005 (USA)
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