Munich: The Edge of War
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Munich: The Edge of War (2021)

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At the tense 1938 Munich Conference, former friends who now work for opposing governments become reluctant spies racing to expose a Nazi secret.


World War 2 films have always intrigued viewers, especially younger ones as they look to experience how such a global conflict impacted the lives of people during that time. This is augmented by the fact that the sub-genre has delivered some iconic hits, from “Schindler’s List” (1993), “Life is Beautiful” (1997) and Saving Private Ryan” (1998) to most recently, “Dunkirk” (2017), “Jojo Rabbit” (2019) and “Greyhound” (2020).

While “Munich-The Edge of War” may not rise to such levels, the film is a poignant tale of the weight of impending war on the shoulders of world leaders and how friends can turn foes in the blink of an eye, especially when there is race, ethnicity, and ambition for geopolitical conquest on the table.

George MacKay delivers his second-straight awe-inspiring performance in a war film after enthralling us all in the Oscar-nominated “1917” (2019), which in my opinion, should have won the Oscar for Best Picture ahead of Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite”. If it was a disillusioned and naïve soldier he depicted in “1917”, here he takes up the more nuanced role of the secretary to the British PM, caught in the middle of ongoing negotiations between Britain and Germany over lasting peace in Europe.

Set during the 1932 talks between Britain and Germany over the Nazi’s threatening to invade Czechoslovakia, director Christian Schwochow focuses on what goes through the minds of statesmen and their staff as they look to balance political ambition and even megalomania with reason and the hope for lasting peace. It was also interesting to see Jeremy Irons play a more statesman-like and pragmatic Neville Chamberlain, who wants to avoid war at all costs rather than earlier depictions of the much-maligned British PM, especially in films like “The Darkest Hour” where he is shown as weak and cowardly in the face of Hitler.

Every supporting performance stands out in the film, especially Jannis Niewohner as a foot-soldier in the small German resistance against Hitler’s aggressive policies. Although we have had movies like this and Tom Cruise’s excellent “Valkyrie” (2008), we need more films that showcase that yes, there were idealistic patriotic Germans that stood up and counteracted the evil ways of the Führer.

“Munich-The Edge of War” may not appeal to everyone, especially viewers looking for spectacle and action as normally is the case with World War 2 films. Instead, this belongs to the lexicon of more restrained, realistic and psychological war dramas like “Oslo” (2021) and “The Imitation Game” (2014) where the impact of the war on the protagonists is depicted in fine detail rather than the event itself.