Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Crime, Drama
  • 2010

Carlos

Carlos

Synopsis

The story of Venezuelan revolutionary, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (Edgar Ramirez), who founded a worldwide terrorist organization and raided the OPEC HQ in 1975 before being caught by the French police

About

The highpoint of the Cannes Film Festival 2010 by a considerable distance was Olivier Assayas's five-and-a-half hour long cut of Carlos. It traces the career of Marxist freedom fighter - cum-terrorist-cum-mercenary - Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, otherwise known as Carlos the Jackal, over the course of more than 20 years, across numerous countries. The film is brilliantly paced and masterfully managed, given its scope and complexity.

Even given its extended running-time, this is an impressive feat of concision and clarity, with each chapter in Carlos's life as one of the world's most wanted men clearly established in the swirl of global action and politics. During the final two-hour third act, in which Carlos moves repeatedly in search of countries that will offer him protection from the French authorities, the rhythm and style that Assayas and lead Edgar Ramirez (Che, The Bourne Ultimatum) have maintained from the start really starts to pay off. Even if you're feeling tired or overwhelmed by this point, you know exactly how to follow the character and the action. A film such as this could have opted for all sorts of tricky devices and structures to keep an audience hooked, but Assayas - a classicist at heart (and an experimentalist only when he's laid the necessary foundations) - puts his head down and proceeds with great narrative purpose in chronological fashion.

Supercharging the already authoritative storytelling, Carlos features some thrilling action/suspense set pieces. One such episode - the raid on the Opec headquarters - transitions from a tense, blazing shootout into the dramatic extended hostage situation in which Carlos held various Middle East oilmen hostage, eventually leading him into a negotiation that found him essentially trading principles for cash, altering his reputation for good.

The film is structured in three parts, each running approximately two hours with the second part the shortest. A more conventional feature-length version of the film running two-hours and forty-minutes has also been prepared, but frankly it's hard to see how you could lose three hours from this and still have a meaningful experience. If anyone can make even that work it's Assayas, but for now it's hard to imagine experiencing Carlos in any other form.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Edgar Ramirez
  • Director: Olivier Assayas
  • Screen Writer: Olivier Assayas
  • Producer: Jens Meurer
  • Photographer: Yorick Le Saux, Denis Lenoir

In a nutshell

One of the most detailed and enthralling political dramatic thrillers ever made.

by Film4

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 The Sitter

    The Sitter

    Jonah Hill stars as a slacker who's forced to fill in as a babysitter for a night, but the kids he's looking after prove more than he can handle when he takes them on a crime-filled trip through NYC

  • Film4 Amy

    Amy

    Senna director Asif Kapadia tells the story of Amy Winehouse in her own words with the use of unseen archive footage and previously unheard tracks

  • Film4 Evil Dead

    Saturday Night Shocks on Film4

    Horror, mystery and suspense stake its claim on the weekend. A new season of Saturday Night Shocks comes to Film4.

  • Film4 Bridesmaids

    Comedy Season 2015 on Film4

    Eight nights of contemporary comedy hits, including first plays of Cuban Fury, American Reunion, The Sitter, and the network premiere of 21 & Over, on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Cannes 2015: Love at the movies

    Film4 Channel Editor David Cox reports on the closing days of Cannes 2015... We're down to the last few days of the festival now, with crowds thinning out and the amount of films still to premiere co

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Top pop moments from Cannes 2015

    Cannes is always a great place to see and hear brilliant pop music, often divorced from its usual context, and 2015 has been no different. Here's my personal playlist of top pop moments from the Compe

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share