Political agents try to thwart Nazi improvement in a tense and well-played fictionalization of historical events. Based on the best-selling novel by Robert Harris, Munich – The Edge of War follows two bureaucrats as they work feverishly to warn the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Jeremy Irons) about Adolph Hitler’s (Urlich Matthews) plans to conquer Europe. Chamberlain’s capitulation to Germany’s annexation of Czechoslovakia was an epic mistake that set the stage for World War II. Munich – The Edge of War shows the extraordinary efforts of loyal civil servants to prevent disaster.
In 1932, Oxford, English student Hugh Legat (George MacKay) became friends with the proud German Paul von Hartmann (Jannis Niewöhner). Legacy regards Hitler’s rise as a travesty. The man is a thug and a racist. Hartmann discounted British rhetoric. Hitler gives Germans faith in themselves and the state. Six years later, the men had advanced careers in their respective governments; but Hartmann had a change of philosophy. Now an elite translator in Berlin, he is appalled at the daily acts of humiliation and violence against Jews.
Meanwhile, Hugh Legat became an important private secretary to Neville Chamberlain. He retrieves top-secret messages back and forth as Chamberlain tries every corner to stop Germany from invading Czechoslovakia. The work’s punishments wreak havoc in his personal life, but Legat understands the country’s plight. When Hitler allows a hastily arranged diplomatic meeting in Munich, Hartmann realizes this is his only chance to pass on sensitive documents about Hitler’s ambitions to the British. He drafted a request that Hugh Legat accompany Chamberlain to the British delegation to Munich.
The film works as a character drama, espionage thriller, and brilliantly crafted showcase of the period’s political hierarchy. Hugh Legat dutifully works within the confines of his station. He has a wealth of information and access to the Prime Minister. But it is not his job to interpret or offer any personal insights. Paul von Hartmann’s ethnic pride turns to horror. He can not sit back and watch his beloved country run off a cliff by a crazy man. The two men make critical decisions that endanger many lives. Their success depends solely on the willingness of the powerful to heed their warnings.
Munich – The Edge of War offers a deeper insight into the mind of Neville Chamberlain. History has branded his actions as weak and naive. His failures led to the rise of Winston Churchill. Jeremy Irons delivers a passionate performance as a man who refused to take his country to war. Chamberlain’s conscience could not bear the brunt of another European conflict. But his assent in the face of evil allowed for a more devastating outcome. The film shows how lack of foresight, underestimating your enemy and stubborn optimism lead to certain doom.
A bully will never stop until he is forced or coerced. This has been true since the dawn of mankind. Munich – The Edge of War depicts this scenario on a stage where the consequences meant tragedy for millions. The excellent ensemble cast, sharp writing and directing will hold your attention. George MacKay continues to make bold choices that prove his versatility as an actor. Munich – The Edge of War is a production of Turbine Studios. It will have a limited theatrical release on December 31st. Followed by a global streaming premiere on January 21 on Netflix.
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