Movie review: Carlos

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

"Carlos," the sprawling biopic about notorious international terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (aka Carlos), was originally released in a five-and-a-half-hour version at Cannes, then aired as a TV mini-series.

Now it's been trimmed down to a 165-minute version that's more digestible for the movie-going public.

After a few failed bombings and assassination attempts while working for a Palestinian terrorist cell, Carlos gained worldwide fame with the 1975 raid on OPEC headquarters in Vienna. Though his handlers didn't consider the raid a success, Carlos became the face of European terrorism until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Director Olivier Assayas uses an intense, in-the-moment style to craft an epic tale of Carlos' escapades from young Marxist revolutionary to full-fledged terrorist for hire, and Edgar Ramirez portrays Carlos as a full-bodied villain - part Brando-style bravado and part early-Scorsese narcissistic sociopath. The result is a mostly captivating ride through history.

While the shorter version of the film requires less diligence and determination, it loses its teeth down the stretch. There might have been too many cuts made - sections feel both cramped and convoluted at times. It'd be better to watch the unabridged story over a couple of sittings.


Opens Friday at the Gateway

2.5 stars out of 4