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Munich The Edge of War (2021)

Review: written Jan 2022

A fresh look at history – but through very old fashioned glasses.

Munich The Edge of War (2021)

This earnest adaptation of Robert Harris’ novel revisits the Munich conference of 1938, where Neville Chamberlain met with Mussolini and Hitler to resolve “The Sudetenland issue”. History has been unkind to Chamberlain and his dogged optimism that a peaceful resolution cold be “accommodated”. This movie takes a fresh look at those events, using an entirely fictional story to posit an alternative way of looking at it as well as giving insight into Chamberlains reasons and thought processes.

The period is well presented, and the cast are all good – George Mackay (from 1917) is on typically believable form, and Jeremey Irons gives good value as an aging principled pacifist.

Munich The Edge of War (2021)

The movie starts out showing our fictional characters, two young men and a women, one English the others German, as firm friends at Oxford before moving to 1938 to show them against the backdrop of turbulent historical events as Hitler threatens to invade the Sudetenland. As the movie progresses, these characters are reunited in the guise of a spy story as they seek to bring important documents to the attention of those seeking to make a deal, before it is too late. While the historical events are fascinating even knowing the outcome, the fictional spy story around those events seems contrived and ultimately too unlikely to be engaging. The events fundamentally lack suspense, and don’t engage your empathy or emotions despite rolling out all the dramatic screenplay tricks to do so. As a study in the events leading up to the Second World War and an observation of how the politics and principles of world leaders played out, this could have been a worthwhile venture, but this is underserved to allow the spy story. As a spy story, we are sadly left with a dull tale for which we know from the start what the ending must be, however much we might wish otherwise. It’s worthy, and good looking in an old-fashioned way, and succeeds inasmuch as the actors manage to convey a sense of what’s at stake for them as individuals, but it could have been a lot leaner given the lack of tension in the premise. The poster would have us believe a clock is ticking against which our protagonists are racing, but for me the clock was ticking too slow in the middle.

Munich The Edge of War (2021)

Not the ticking clock thriller I had been led to believe then, but not a disaster either as a window into an oft overlooked period leading up to WW II.

Munich The Edge of War (2021)

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