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Olivier Assayas electrified the Cannes Film Festival with CARLOS, his epic and definitive portrait of the notorious international terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, who masterminded a wave of terror attacks in Europe and the Middle East in the ’70s and ’80s. Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez stars in the title role. Co-written by Assayas and Dan Franck, CARLOS illustrates the evolution of contemporary terrorism as it examines the life of its title character, a Venezuelan whose real name is Ilich Ramírez Sánchez. Tracing the arc of Carlos’ criminal activities across two decades and several nations, the film features a dynamic cast of international talent and was shot in numerous countries, including Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Lebanon, and Morocco.
A Well Made, Entertaining, Thought-Provoking Terrorism Film
For many reviewers who claim that film is too long, too slow, and glorifies terrorism, I have one other film that many people have said the same thing about: THE GODFATHER. So for those you who have not seen the film and wish to critize it, please leave your comments for yourself. I have seen the film, and as a member of the criminal justice system who has intensely followed/studied/prevented crime and terrorism, this is about as close as anyone will come to protraying how today's terrorism was born.
Here are the facts audiences should be aware of before they see this film: 1st - the film roughly covers 20 to 30 years of the life of terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, aka Carlos the Jackal. This man was the Osama bin Laden of his time: a man who moved money for different terrorist groups and tyrannts, organized attacks on innocent people, and is (not "was" since he is still alive rotting in a French prison) a cold-blooded killer. Thankfully, the filmmakers did an amazing job of sticking to facts, only using testimony and first hand accounts of what had occurred during his reign of terror. So there is very little room for "glorifying" the man - in fact you're rooting for police and international agencies to catch the SOB (or at least I was).
That being said, this leads to the 2nd thing - Edgar Ramirez. Given he didn't have a large role in THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, Ramirez was able to pull the impossible and truly become Carlos. You don't see the "I'm a well paid actor" attitude some actors carry today, instead you see the greedy terrorist celebrity that many people associated with evil. Edgar Ramirez BECOMES Carlos, which is the most important piece the film required. I mentioned THE GODFATHER earlier, Ramirez embodied his Carlos much like Marlon Brando embodied Don Corrilone.
The last thing worth mentioning is the filmmaking, which was best described earlier as having the quickness and political intrigue like the films MUNICH and THE BOURNE TRILOGY. There are moments that seem to drag, especially in the final episode (there are three, each roughly 1.5 hours long) that leads to Carlos' arrest. But this isn't meant to be an action-packed film, though there is a good amount; this isn't supposed to be a 100% biography of a criminal, though they get many things right; and this is NOT AT ALL a film that tells audiences to become terrorists, rather it explores how one individual gained power by fear and was caught due to his own greed.
The one downside to the film though (and my friends and coworkers mentioned this as well) is the switching back and forth of languages. There are English subtitles in French, German, Spanish, and Arabic but there is plenty of English speaking for those who don't enjoy reading to still follow along.
CARLOS is a must see. If you want to get an idea of how terrorism was born and how it matured to the animal it is today, please see this film.
Good historical perspective on terrorism
This goes back to the days when the terrorists seemed to have a just cause albeit they were a little over the top with their methodology. Today's terrorists work for the CIA and with the assault on Lybia they will have a seat at the UN. How things change. I enjoyed this movie in spite of it's length. Ramierez does a great job and switches from English to Spanish to French in a way that I could only wish for myself.
Do not buy this version, has been grossly re-formated.
I don't know why, but ITunes is selling a version of this film, that has been reduced by at least a third of it's original length.
Do yourself a favor and get the Criterion edition, it's a lot better, and it's full-length...again I don't know what Itunes' deal is.