Fascinating 5 hour plus, 3 part film about Carlos the Jackal (although
he never actually called himself that) the headline grabbing terrorist
of the 70s and 80s.
With little exposition, we're dropped into a whirlwind of violence,
self-aggrandizement, sexual seduction, and power games, moving at an
almost dizzying speed. The film allows us to slowly figure out Carlos,
instead of explain him in a simple facile way.
While never sympathetic, somehow the amazing Edgar Rameriez allows us
to feel for this id and ego driven creature, powered far more by the
need for attention and adulation (whether from women or the press) than
by true belief. Indeed, one of the most interesting things about the
film is how (intentionally) shallow and hollow Carlos's political
The last 1/3 is the slowest and hardest to sit through. Carlos's slow
decline into ineffectiveness and unimportance is sometimes patience
trying. But Rob Nelson, in his excellent Village Voice review makes a
strong argument that this is 1) unavoidable after the high paced rush
of the first two parts and 2) part of the point of the film; without
his fixes of women and power there wasn't much to Carlos, and without
them both he and we want it to be over.
This is a film I'd like to see again. While I don't quite agree (yet)
with the many critics who have hailed this as of the best films of last
10 years, I do think it's a challenging, brilliantly acted, wonderfully
made film, that gives context both to modern terrorism and recent world
history. Add to that, an exploration of the blurring fine line between
power and uncontrolled narcissism that seems to dog leaders (especially
male) of all political stripes from Hitler to Bill Clinton to George
Bush to Carlos.
That's a lot to successfully cover, even in 5 hours.