Directed by Christian Schwochow
Stars: George MacKay, Jannis Niewöhner, Sandra Hüller, August Diehl, Anjili Mohindra, Ulfrich Matthes, and Jeremy Irons
Listen, the historical spy espionage subgenre is never a favourite of mine so maybe Munich: The Edge of War got off to an unfair start with my pre-existing prejudices against the genre. It’s not that the subgenre isn‘t interesting, the tensions of the world being at war, having countries sending civilians to conduct spy like missions- that’s nerve wracking. It’s just that these political spy drama films always seem to lack an interesting enough figure to be the lead, and the pacing is vastly inconsistent something that turns out to be an issue in a genre that’s typically well over two hours long.
A British diplomat travels to Munich in the run-up to World War II, where a former classmate of his from Oxford is also en route, but is working for the German government.
All of those faults are things where Munich: Edge of War falters in it‘s storytelling. While the way it goes about telling the story is refreshing as we get to focus on two people stuck on separate sides of the beginnings of the World War, each desperately trying to stop Adolf Hitler from pursuing forward with his evil intention. Getting the perspective not only from the standard heroes (Brits/Americans), and instead the perspective from a German trying his best to save his country from Hitlers manipulation and devastation, was a nice change for the sub genre. It’s unfortunate that the pacing ends up being a true killer for the films progress. Everything interesting seems to be drowned out by far less interesting plot points. We’d go from high intensity situations where our leads are in deep with trouble around them, to some of the most dull exchanges between Hugh and Neville Chamberlain.
Technically it’s fine, costumes look great it’s nothing new for the time period. The score is good in the moment, but slightly forgettable- so nothing truly stands out in that way, but it wasn’t bad either.
The acting is solid, Jeremy Irons is a great Neville Chamberlain- the confidence he carried in himself even though others were doubting his leadership was clear. McKay does a fine job as Hugh, but his British diplomat turned spy isn’t interesting or well rounded enough to be a strong lead character. Whereas Jannis Niewöhner had a much more compelling character to play in Hugh’s German counterpart- Paul Von Hartmann. Von Hartmann has to deal with so much complexities including his own fault of being one of millions of Germans that originally fell for Hitlers charm, now Hartmann in a way seeks redemption for his error even if it means risking his life. This complexity really made Jannis far more interesting to follow as our lead because there was more he could put into it. Anjli Mohindra is a scene stealer as typist Joan, her screen time is limited but Mohindra does the most to really make every time she’s on camera be memorable.
In the end, if you like espionage movies or things that involve the World Wars then you might enjoy this more than myself. Unfortunately Munich: The Edge of War just doesn’t have enough to keep me personally committed through its two hour runtime