Munich: The Edge of War is a political war thriller based on the Robert Harris novel of the same name (minus the subtitle, which was added for obvious Speilbergy reasons). It stars George Mackay as a young secretary for Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (played by Jeremy Irons) in the frightful lead up to the Second World War. The film follows Mackay’s Legat as he enters a world of political intrigue and espionage with the help of his old German Oxford friend to prevent the outbreak of another Great War.

One thing that becomes immediately apparent about Munich: The Edge Of War is its desperate wish to compare the 1930’s political climate to today. There are several scenes where we witness students debating in bars about Adolf Hitler in the same way that students would have discussed Donald Trump in the past few years. Though that there is where a big problem with the film lies. The conversations are precisely the same, and while it’s very likely these would have occurred, of course, the way the characters are written just feels wrong. They use modern language a lot like “bigot” and “racist”, which are words we, of course, use ad nauseam now but probably not so much in the 1930s.

Aside from how the student characters are written, it becomes evident as the film goes on that really they shouldn’t have been made the main protagonists at all. However, a lot of the film does concern the talks between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler, and these are the best bits of the film. The parts where George Mackay is running around with his familiar gormless shocked face are very standard fare for a World War Two thriller, really. Chamberlain is a Prime Minister that is often forgotten, thanks to the fact he was succeeded by the much more charismatic Winston Churchill and to add insult to injury, he also died not long after leaving Downing Street.

Jeremy Irons gives a whole new side to Neville Chamberlain that has rarely ever been seen in film. It shows that this Prime Minister wasn’t actually the pushover he’s often portrayed as and was, in fact, reasonably instrumental in the ultimate Allied victory. With all of this in mind, you can see why it’s baffling that this man wasn’t the main character.

George Mackay not only is just pulling the same face throughout his time here as the unearned protagonist, but he just seems too young to be a close secretary to the Prime Minister. The man’s almost 30 now, but he still looks about 18. It’s hard to believe he’s not only married with a son but also has a high earning government job.

Munich: The Edge Of War is a reasonably standard Second World War Thriller that feels a bit like a poorly written episode of The Crown. It does tell a fascinating story and shines new light on a Prime Minister who’s often forgotten. Still, it sadly focuses on bland characters to make the film more thrilling, so all of the interest mentioned above is sacrificed.

Munich: The Edge Of War will release on Netflix on January 21 2022

 

By Freddie Deighton

Freddie is a News Editor, Critic and the Resident Batman Expert at FilmHounds. He has a degree in Digital Film Production from Ravensbourne University London and he graduated from The BRIT School. He has a YouTube channel called Deight Night Reviews where he posts most of his reviews. Go subscribe to him over there! To find out ALL of Freddie's film opinions go to his Letterboxd - TheDeightonator

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