Reviews of Carlos
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I’m pretty disappointed just for the simple fact that i sat through a 5-1/2 hour movie only to come out saying; “Yeah, it was ok”. If i sit through a movie that long, i wanna come out amazed. That shouldn’t be too much to ask, especially when I’ve dedicated the majority of my day to watching it. Olivier Assayas’ biopic (his first in fact) about pro-palestinian terrorist; ‘Carlos The Jackal’ (Ilich Ramírez Sánchez) had many problems. Don’t get me wrong, it was well acted, especially by the lead actor; Edgar Ramirez (who’s set to portray Pablo Escobar in his next role). It was also shot very well. I was so excited to see this, mainly because aside from Steven Soderbergh and Richard Linklater, Olivier Assayas has the most eclectic range of any director working today. Watch ‘Demonlover’ and ‘Summer Hours’ back-to-back, or watch ‘Irma Vep’ and ‘Clean’ (both films star Maggie Cheung) back-to-back to see what im talking about. Now i give assayas respect for taking on such a tough project. As a filmmaker he’s never made a movie quite like this (although on a personal level for him, it actually makes that he directed ‘Carlos’ seeing that he grew up in france during the time period where Carlos The Jackal was very active and most known).
For some reason, these super-long biopics that are based on true events (‘red riding’) or focus on both; the rise and file of a famous historical figures (che guevarra or carlos the jackal), always seem to start with a bang, but the last half (or the ‘fall’) of the film always seems to fall short and just drag on. Take ‘Che’ for example. The first part of ‘Che’ was almost perfect as far as I’m concerned, but the 2nd part seemed to have no direction sometimes. But because the first part was so great, it still kinda made up for the problematic 2nd half (i cant say the same about ‘Carlos’). ‘Che’ is probably the perfect movie to compare ‘Carlos’ with. Both films are about controversial historical figures who some consider terrorists while others consider heros (i personally think Carlos was way worse than Che Guevarra, but that’s just me). Both movies are long as hell. Neither get too much in to the childhood/early years of the subjects (although ‘Che’ didn’t really have to do that, because we already have ‘Motorcycle Diaries’). And like i said earlier, both have somewhat dissapointing endings.
In the film, Olivier Assayas takes us from Carlos’s first mission (to prove himself) for the pro Palestinian organization; PLFP, to his most notorious mission (raiding the OPEC building in Vienna) to his downfall into obscurity due to too many failed terrorist attempts and the fall of the Berlin wall (marking an end to the cold war). In my opinion, there’s no real mention as to why Carlos was so gung-ho on being this pro-palestinian terrorists, when he was latino. I understand wanting to fight for other opressed people, but there’s gotta be a good reason to wanna risk your life so many times for something that doesn’t really directly affect you. Carlos was venezualan-born and raised in england. Neither; Palestine or Israel have that much to do with him. I mean Che Guevarra may not have been Cuban, but he eventually (TRIED) to take his fight to all of latin american (and pretty much failed with the obvious exception of the otherthrow of the Cuban Government). I could sense that the film was trying its best to be fair and balanced and not take a side, but no matter what, at the end of the day, this movie kinda portrays Carlos as this cool, womanizing, globe-trotting, gun-carrying agent, when in fact he was just a terrorist responsible for many innocent deaths.
I understand that there is a shorter 160 minute verson of ‘Carlos’ (the version i saw at IFC was in fact a mini-series that was turned into a long roadshow movie with an intermission). Maybe the shortened version is better, but i dunno. If this movie had as many problems as it did in the 5+ hour movie, i don’t imagine how a stripped down version could be any better. No matter what though, at the end of the day Olivier Assayas tried something different and still consider him one of the 10 best directors working right now.
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.