In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I’m sure the life of Carlos the Jackal had more than enough crazy and interesting moments to fill a five hour mini series, but I was more than satisfied by this truncated movie cut.”
The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again. But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.
“Men of honour have nothing to fear. Only traitors need be afraid.”
Carlos the Jackal is one of the most notorious figures of the last half century. But I’ll be buggered if I actually knew anything about him or the specifics of how he gained his notoriety. I think I always assumed he was a spy, or hitman, or revolutionary of some description. I know he was kind of the influence for a shitty Bruce Willis and Richard Gere movie around the turn of the century. But today, I finally learned who he is and the specifics of how he gained his notoriety, because today, I watched Carlos.
Sometime in the 70s, pro Palestinian soldier and terrorist Illich Remirez Sanchez (Edgar Remirez) decides to start going by the name Carlos, and one of the world’s most famous killers, revolutionaries and bad guys is born. Despite his effective, ruthless nature leading to many successes, his boss, Wadie Haddad (Ahmed Kaabour) thinks Carlos is a bit of a loose cannon and is reluctant to give him more responsibility or more high profile assignments.
He eventually cracks though, and puts Carlos in charge of planning and perpetrating one of the most famous terrorist acts in history. Taking the heads of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) hostage when they meet for a summit in Vienna, Carlos and his colleagues demand a DC9 jet and are able to successfully escape to Algiers. He also manages to extort $20million for Haddad’s cause, but that wasn’t the mission. So Haddad and Carlos part ways with the latter beginning a freelance career in terrorism
Cut down from a five hour TV mini series, this two and half hour movie version never feels like it’s cut down, missing anything or rushing through things. It’s more a series of events than a standard beginning, middle and end kind of movie, but that series of events is held together so well by Edgar Remirez in the title role, that it all comes together to form a pretty amazing big picture.
Carlos never attempts to tell an origin story, or get deep into what made the man tick. It’s more like passive observer, letting this story unfold, never getting in the way with pretentions or psycho analysis of its characters. It makes a point of letting its violent moments be messy and disorganised. No elaborate choreography or stunts, just desperate people in desperate situations, doing whatever they can to survive. And that messiness makes the threat and danger of Carlos’ world seem all the more real.
I’m sure the life of Carlos the Jackal had more than enough crazy and interesting moments to fill a five hour mini series, but I was more than satisfied by this truncated movie cut. Carlos is the story of a terrible person who did terrible things, and five hours of that may be a little draining, no matter how well it’s written, made or acted.