And I love it too.
The Art Direction and the costumes are fantastic and Assayas' direction is masterful (except for some abrupt cuts but these were the only flaws I could notice).
Although most of the background and protagonists were unknown to me I liked the political and historical information that was provided through the film. Carlos himself was well-played by a versatile Edgar Ramirez and Assayas and Franck accomplished a truly remarkable feat - they neither heroized nor demonized him.
A cinematic masterpiece - made for TV!
PS: political extremists are, as you can tell quite out of it but especially for the lefties among them I notice a even stranger and quite naive world view and I'm not sure whether they actually know what they want to accomplish (maybe that's why they never succeeded...)
Good performance by Edgar Ramirez as Carlos.
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.
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.
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.
"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.