A UK-German co-production which avoids that bland Euro-pudding high quality, Munich: The Edge Of Battle is an entertaining adaptation of Robert Harris’ fictionalised account detailing the negotiations over Hitler’s plan to take over Czechoslovakia. Director Christian Schwochow has made episodes of The Crown, and Munich… has the air of a truncated, well-put-together middle-brow mini-series. It by no means grabs you by the throat, however it makes a valiant try to inform a narrative whose final result is thought even by those that flunked GCSE Historical past.
Tailored by Ben Energy (The Hole Crown) from Harris’ novel Munich, the story begins on vigorous kind at Oxford College as three faculty friends — Brit Hugh Legat (George MacKay), German Paul von Hartman (Jannis Niewöhner) and Paul’s Jewish German girlfriend Lenya (Liv Lisa Fries, who will get short-changed by the story) — get together on an idyllic summer time’s night time in 1932. Spooling ahead six years, Hugh is now working as a non-public secretary for Neville Chamberlain (Jeremy Irons) and settled right into a dour domesticity with spouse Pamela (Jessica Brown Findlay), the latter plot-thread given an excessive amount of weight for little pay-off. In the meantime, Paul has turned from a fervent nationalist into an undercover resistance agent (little of this transformation is seen on display which leaves the character feeling slight). In the course of the Munich peace convention over the annexing of the Sudetenland, with Hugh accompanying Chamberlain and Paul working for Hitler (Ulrich Matthes, scary), a plot is hatched to get the latter investigating and performing on intelligence clandestinely served up by the previous.
Munich lacks actual pleasure, however serves up sufficient espionage to maintain it watchable.
In the end, Munich: The Edge Of Battle is a men-talking-in-rooms flick that lacks actual pleasure (it’s laborious to spend money on the second-half plot to kill Hitler), however serves up sufficient espionage and subterfuge shenanigans to maintain it watchable. There are fascinating character dynamics right here, Hugh caught between a way of honour in the direction of Chamberlain and a need to show Hitler’s true plans. Chamberlain, typically portrayed as a political cuckold, is afforded extra grace right here as a person determined to search out peace at any value, performed by Irons with an entertaining imperiousness that belies an undercurrent of melancholy.
MacKay is great as a greenhorn civil servant and he’s matched by Niewöhner, who finds element and charisma in his double agent — the pair’s scenes collectively are the perfect within the image. Schwochow’s path is the type of filmmaking that’s doomed to be described as ‘handsomely mounted’, very tasteful and nimble, however Munich… lacks the emotional punch to make it actually memorable. In that early Oxford get together, Paul describes the British as “distant from feeling”. It may additionally be a very good tagline for the film.