Carlos - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Carlos Reviews

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August 13, 2013
Moderately interesting miniseries on the life of the terrorist Carlos. Not particularly engaging, I guess due to him being a particularly loathsome character. Also seems filled with small, insignificant details, while missing some important ones.

Good performance by Edgar Ramirez as Carlos.
June 26, 2013
Fact and fiction definitely met along the way, but this brilliantly acted mini series keeps you glued to the tv set due to it's realism and attention to detail. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez acting is so unbelievable, you sometimes do believe he is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez. I had to pause it so many times to fact check little details along the way, and to my surprise, this was very accurate.
½ June 2, 2013
Any movie about Carlos is automatically exciting but when its made so well its extremely enjoyable. Gives a superb insight into the life of the famous man. Try watching the full version if possible which is superb, the shorter version isn't too bad either. Superb acting and direction.
March 11, 2013
Calling this a "biopic" is almost an insult. I would consider it more a fascinating character study more than anything. I also would personally rank this as one of the best films about terrorists and terrorism alongside "Battle of Algiers". Edgar Ramirez gives a mighty impressive performance as Carlos The Jackal (Funny, the over-5-hour miniseries never once called him that). His arc throughout the (fictionalized) film resembles more of a down-and-out celebrity than as this legendary larger-than-life revolutionary/evil terrorist (depending on who you ask). It's a miniseries, technically but you'll most likely find yourself wanting to watch it in one sitting. It's really that compelling. Probably my favorite film of 2010.
March 7, 2013
Fascinating 5 1/2 hour movie about the rise and fall of a revolutionary/terrorist/mercenary.
Super Reviewer
½ January 31, 2013
I'm rating the complete miniseries. After viewing it,I have no desire to watch the condensed version. At five and a half hours, Olivier Assayas' "Carlos" doesn't steal a minute of it's audience's time. It's a stunning (reportedly fictionalized) portrait of the infamous terrorist Carlos the Jackyl, a man who's revolutionary ambitions are only matched by his lust for women and ego.

Carlos is played by Edgar Ramirez (Domino, Zero Dark Thrity) who gives one of cinema's (and television's) finest recent performances. He deftly portrays a charming monster, a man who exploits the tribulations of others and foreign political strife to quench his own thirst for power. We never really like Carlos, but the film does a great job of making us understand him... rendering his journey through a world of violence, greed,and betrayal an utterly absorbing one.

Assayas makes a film far removed from the warmth and grace of his 2009 "Summer Hours," but his exquisite characterization remains. He masterfully handles forcefully scenes of gritty action and violence as well as the potentially overwhelming flow of historical fact and figures. The single greatest strength of Carlos is how accessible if feels. A lot of information assaults the audience yet it all feels manageable and fluid. The scope is daunting but Assayas keeps it grounded enough to grasp.

"Carlos" is a standout character study; a true modern epic that needs to be seen in any form. Undoubtedly though the miniseries is the way to go. Assayas' assured direction and the incendiary performance of Ramirez can't be ignored. It's brilliant.
January 30, 2013
I'm gonna have to see this
January 29, 2013
Bit of a marathon at 5 hours plus but well worth it.
½ January 23, 2013
This fantastic biopic chronicles the life of the infamous terrorist Carlos the Jackal from 1973 through 1994, portraying him as alternately idealistic, charming, brutal, and banal.
½ January 7, 2013
Some grippingly cinematic big sequences, and some intense dramatic performances, the 5 1/2 hour running time somehow seems modest. The film is without a lull, undoubtedly due to Olivier Assayas's enthusiasm for the craft and Ramirez's dedicated performance. I think something goes wrong in Part 3, and the narrative doesn't feel cohesive. Perhaps this is intentional, because Carlos's identity and relevance to society really just fizzles out. This is what I felt happened with the story itself. Perhaps it will grow on me, but there's enough brilliance in this that demands it to be viewed.
December 20, 2012
A very engaging look into the live of a controversial person. Engaging throughout, with few missteps or bungles, and with the sheer scope of the work, the faults are easily forgotten. I would love to know the full story "Carlos the Jackal" and what the effects of his actions are on the world (I am ignorant and did not know of his existence beforehand). I say that stands in testament to the art of the film as it never dumbs down the man's action or tries to excuse his behavior. Instead it shows us a picture of what his charm might have looked like when he was in his prime and that's where the power of this film is.

My one complaint is that it doesn't go into his life before becoming a terrorist or his childhood, which seems like ripe subjects that such a far reaching film such as this would touch on. But, that's a small complaint.
½ November 17, 2012
Edgar is great, is a really good mini serie
½ October 20, 2012
For the most part this is a dramatisation of the unknown specifics in Carlos the Jackal's criminal life, but it is simply a superb one.
½ October 18, 2012
Money money money money. Everything is money even terrorism lol
Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2012
Good heavens are my eyes exhausted. I have been working up the courage to face this behemoth six-hour movie for sometime and while I am thankful I actually took on the beast, my skull feels like it has just been squeezed in a vice.

At its best, it is a meticulous look at career terrorism. The highs and the lows, the bombs and the blows, and every blue print in between. It is a fascinating look at the life of an extreme ideologue as he ditches every tail and cleans up the messes made by his partners. Every new hurdle slowly eats away at his overall goal of a global revolution, draining his energy and the audience's as well. Yet, while his moxie may be gradually diminishing, he never once appears to want to call it a day.

Carlos is uncommonly obdurate and clings stubbornly to the belief that the world needs him. When in reality - in an observation made by a fellow Syrian terrorist - it is evident that Carlos needs these terrorist acts in order to give his life meaning. So even though many of his plans crumble, he quickly leap frogs to the next project. Knowing deep down that were he to stop, he would just be a senseless murderer. Not that he was without backing. In fact, he was courted by many regimes, but clearly his ego was writing checks that he could not feasibly cash.

In meticulous and often exhaustive detail, Carlos and his gang are shown planning an attack on an OPEC conference and executing, pardon the pun, an attempted assassination plot on Anwar Sadat. Although six hours of these scenes can be laborious to sit through, its extensive length actually works in the favor of the narrative. After watching Carlos' extensive exploits for many hours, it helps the audience better understand his future actions. Primarily, it helps illuminate why Carlos begins to grow restless. The OPEC conference aside, Carlos must deal with botched job after botched job. He becomes more desperate with every passing year and his inability to start a global revolution breeds discontentment. Subsequently, his actions becomes more brazen. His idealism begins to give way to egoism and becomes a hazy concoction of ideology driven hubris.

Edgar Ramirez is superb as the amoral man of conviction. There is a quiet intensity to him that makes it very difficult to take your eyes off of. It could have been so easy to play Carlos as an over the top megalomaniacal criminal mastermind, but he abstains from doing so. Thankfully Ramirez forgoes the headlines and gives us the fine print. I hope this role opens up more doors for this talented actor.

Carlos is quite a journey and not one that I will probably take again this decade. However, it is a unique and well-acted film about what it truly means to live and die for a cause. No matter how futile it can seem at times.
Super Reviewer
½ September 18, 2012
Excellent film, brilliant on many levels. It's long, and yet it kept my attention. The main character, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, or Carlos the Jackal, is not stupid or insane. He's extremely intelligent, fluent in a number of languages, educated, etc. That's what is fascinating about him. He's very logical, and his logic makes sense given his presuppositions (hard core Marxist). In some ways, he's a real life James Bond. We don't often think about what a 'license to kill' would actually mean. This movie makes you think about it. Carlos doesn't see anything he does as wrong or even questionable. He has a clearly defined goal and intends to accomplish it by any means necessary. It is just and necessary that he is now in prison, and I hope he never gets out. A stunning portrait of the most dangerous kind of human being.
Super Reviewer
August 22, 2012
Ilich Ramirez Sanchez(Edgar Ramirez), self-professed revolutionary Marxist, is looking for his very own revolution that does not involve dying in a hellhole in South America and chooses the liberation of Palestine in 1973. Since Israel is busy killing everybody involved with the Munich terrorist attack, Wadie Haddad(Ahmad Kaabour) of the FPLP has openings as Sanchez chooses the nom du guerre Carlos. However, things do not always go smoothly as a courier is arrested at the airport with fake passports and bad poetry. So, the Japanese Red Army goes into action by taking the French ambassador hostage to ensure his release but negotiations break down on the subject of a chemical toilet.

"Carlos" is an epic speculation and portrait of a terrorist as a preening narcissist that spans countries, and languages, both too numberous to recount. Surprisingly for his inconsistent track record, Olivier Assayas holds it all together in a movie that is compelling throughout, despite its sequential structure. As one character calling him a mercenary might not be exactly fair, as Carlos has some idealism, it is true that he might be in it also for the women and guns. While initially talking about victory, it turns out his legacy will involve nothing more than a long string of bodies. He is only one of any amount of militants who are so enamored of their causes that they have their heads so far up their collective asses that they miss the little details(of which the movie is rather fond of) that lead to ruin or how the world is really run. In a way the movie makes a case for the existence of state sponsored terrorism in that certain countries have a symbiotic relationship with the terrorists living within their borders. And since they are usually police states, they have a pretty good idea of what everybody is up to. At the same time, some people will not be thrilled to learn Yasser Arafat was not the root of all evil.
½ August 9, 2012
In the third world, the Cold War was a game of vendors bidding for contracts, not a battle of ideologies.
July 29, 2012
Good movie but the final act as scene become repetitive.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
July 1, 2012
Wow, I had no idea just how dangerous Carlos Santana was in his spare time. Oh sorry, this is some other Carlos, it's just that after Santana worked with Steven Tyler for that mediocre 2005 song "Just Feel Better" (Man, not even the good classic musicians make good music anymore, but at least Santana can still rock that guitar), I can't help but associate him with a jackal. Yeah, I'm thinking that the nickname "Jackal" is better suited for Steven Tyler, considering that he looks like a jackal, though when it comes to being honored as a master of artillery, I've got to give it up to my man Ilich Ramirez Sánchez (Where did he come up Carlos?) here, because even his biopic just about made my head explode, not just simply because it's a five-and-a-half-hour-long miniseries, but because it has way too many nationalities and languages bunched together for my mind to handle for the aforementioned five-and-a-half hours. It's a French-German series about a Venezuelan with speaking moments of English, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Italian (Oh wait, I already said Spanish), Arabic, German, Russian, Dutch and Japanese. If Steven Tyler really were to walk into frame and start doing his crazy scat/throat-click hybrid language, which is hard enough to keep up with when it's on its own, my head actually would have exploded. It just about blew the critics' minds, because they were eating it up, and I'm sorry, but I'm gonna have to pull back on that. Hey, don't get me wrong, this is still quite the good miniseries, as well it should be if it's going to keep me stuck with it for five-and-a-half hours, yet the saga doesn't make it out without some battle scars.

I don't know how much things smoothed out in the considerably tighter just three-hour-long German film cut, the little over two-and-a-half-hour-long UK film cut or the little under two-and-a-half-hour-long US film cut, but at five-and-a-half hours, the miniseries is no short ride (The fact that they shaved off over three hours for the US film cut should tell you what you're in for), especially when you consider that the subject matter, while fairly complex, doesn't quite warrant such a sprawling runtime, and it's not about to let you forget that. The series goes excessively bloated through repetition and superfluous aspects, a fair couple of which don't completely sync up, in terms of relevance to the main story, leaving the series uneven on occasions. The gratuitously overwhelming runtime is obtained through everything going on way too long, particularly during the final act - which then has the nerve to end this series on a cop-out -, until after a while, steam goes limp until something actually happens, and believe me, that's no brief waiting period, partially because this series doesn't have much immediate steam to begin with. Outside of the occasional weak visual effect, due to those blasted budget limitations, the series really is like a film, complete with cliches and other collapses into conventions found in films of this type, as well as the committing of a great sin that far too many films of this type commit and no miniseries of this length should commit. Ladies and gentlemen, the central problem with the series is simply that it is just plain dull, if not all-out boring for long lapses of time during its five-and-a-half hours, being pin-drop quiet, with baby tooth-loose editing that leave nothing but nothingness to spill in at will, making for an experience that isn't quite tedious, though somewhat challenging, as you will not make it far through the first episode, alone, before you start checking your watch. Still, more of a challenge is giving up on the final product, all together, because although it's quite considerably flawed, it is not without redemption. For every false move, there is a regaining of footing that ultimately leaves the series standing strong and with many a high point, some of which involving aspects that are scarce, but impacting upon arrival.

Being that the series is so quiet, the soundtrack ever so rarely comes into play, yet when it does, it's nifty in its sounds and its affect on the tone, for most all of the tracks, with the exception of The Feelies' really bad "Forces at Work", The Dead Boys' following and unbearable "Sonic Reducer" and Wire's really obnoxious "Drill" (You're bound to get sick of Wire eventually, though I figured it would take the first song on the tracklist, not the third out of four; Wow, whoever put together the soundtrack sure likes Wire), this soundtrack has some nifty tunes, many of which really liven up the tone for the slim amount of time they're present, something that can be said about the handsome and, at times, affecting cinematography. Still, perhaps the reason why they don't play the soundtrack too often is because, on occasions, this thing doesn't need music to establish tone, even though I still kind of wish that they did, because, seriously, when there are no tunes, more often than not, things slow nearly to a crawl. However, when things get real, intrigue hits the scene, making all of the excessiveness and quietness within the more tense moments not simply hardly noticable, but actually supplementary to the tension, leaving the series to meditate upon the atmosphere and consequence to where you soon find yourself on the edge of your seat, only to soon be knocked clean out of it when the bullets begin to fly, especially when you consider how well director Olivier Assayas works with some of the action. The good deal of moments of airtight tension and intrigue are worth waiting for, yet between those are immensely more prevalent moments of slowness, and even then, when they cut out the nothingness and explore substance and exposition to a certain degree, it's hard to fall out of the series, as the story is just so fascinating, if not engrossing in some spots, being really brought to life by Assayas' intrigue, as well as the inspired and memorable performances. Every person has a role, and their significance is made palpable through the very distinctive and very effective atmospheres that loom over our performers, with leading man Édgar Ramírez boasting the strongest presence of all. Ramirez is surprisingly rarely asked to break from a confident and authoritative presence, yet it's hard to mind, as he plays it with such strong charisma and borderline transformativeness that really grips you, which of course makes it all the more satisfying when Ramirez really is given the opportunity to into the depths of Ilich Ramírez "Carlos the Jackal" Sánchez and does so with compelling layers, as well as effortless and sometimes emotional confidence that really cuts into the humanity of our very rocky protagonist. Yes, the saga is just much too long and slow, yet where it could have collapsed as a bore, it redeems itself by making many a right move for every false move, and while that's certainly not enough to bring it up to the level of quality promised by the critics, it's certainly enough to make this a rewarding watch, overlong though, it may be.

Overall, at least as a miniseries, the saga is bloated to no end by excessive repetition and expendable material, as well as long periods of nothingness, yet this gratutious elongation is merely an exacerbator of the series' core problem, extreme slowness, which leaves the series to lose steam is quite a few spots, as you simply can not afford to be all but entirely slow for five-and-a-half hours, unless, of course, you can redeem yourself with many strong moves, something that this series is filled with, boasting the occasional use of a lively soundtrack and moments of chilling tension to break up consistent intrigue that is absorbed from the compelling story by Olivier Assayas' inspired direction and a talented cast, headed by an engrossing Édgar Ramírez, thus leaving "Carlos" to stand as a mostly engaging and ultimately satisfying study on the notorious terrorist.

3/5 - Good
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