Sword of Gideon

Dir: Michael Anderson
Star: Steven Bauer, Peter Dvorsky, Rod Steiger, Michael York

After the 1972 Olympics massacre, the Israeli government put together a hit-team to kill those responsible. That's the concept behind this, which sees commando captain Avner (Bauer) leading a band to hunt down the Black September terrorists. It's not a mission without issues: outside of Avner, those chosen are largely not professionals, but civilians with the talents for the job, and government support is ambivalent at best. The team have strict orders to avoid civilian casualties at all costs, but if they're caught, all knowledge will be disavowed. Luckily, Avner has connections to a French group who can provide them with intelligence information about the targets. But are they also providing the terrorists with information about those who are hunting them?

If this sounds familiar, Steven Spielberg used the same source book as the inspiration for Munich, and this 1986 made-for-TV/cable [its producers include CTV and HBO] production uses many of the same incidents: though, obviously, post-9/11, the film now has different resonances. Less successful are sequences which portray Avner's family life, thanks to an unconvincing performance from his wife, and clumsy writing. This is best when concentrating instead on the psychological toll the mission takes on Avner, with a turning point when he watches the wife and daughter of a victim being told of their loved one's death. Between that and the death of his comrades, he gradually slides from cocky Army officer to morose, haunted man who views his acts as pointless: "I see another terrorist ring, another underground army, rising up to hunt us - taking revenge for our revenge." History has proven the chilling truth of that statement as a prediction.

[December 2006]

The covenant, the sword
and the arm of the Lord
See also... [Index] [Next] [Previous] [TC Home Page]