I knew half way through the first part of the excellent film Carlos, that it would be the best film I would see in 2010. Carlos is at the apex of filmmaking, a true juggernaut of a film. It commands your attention for over 5 hours and is never boring. Edgar Ramirez gives a standout leading performance as The Jackal and he is on screen for nearly every second of the epic film. All the weight of the material is on him and carries it with ease. Which is why I think Carlos is the best film of 2010.
Édgar Ramírez stars as Carlos, aka The Jackal. The film is inspired by the real life terrorist codenamed The Jackal. A few films have been inspired by his escapades throughout Europe in the 70’s and 80’s. The great 70’s film, The Day of the Jackal, and the lame brain 90’s flick, The Jackal, with Bruce Willis. But this here is the real deal. This is one hell of a film.
Starting in the early 70’s, Carlos rips through Europe at a breakneck speed showing The Jackal as he literally shoots his way through the streets of Vienna, London, Damascus, Munich and Paris. He was everywhere installing fear into those whom opposed him. The film continues through the 80’s as he still fights for his cause and finally ends in the early 90’s with his apprehension.
Carlos was born in Venezuela but was educated in the USSR. At a young age he became influenced by Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s beliefs. But as time grew and the more and more he threatened Europe, Carlos went on one big ego trip as his fight against Europe became more about his thirst for power than his actual beliefs.
The film does such a great job of giving the viewer clear direction throughout about dates, locations, and people so we are never confused. Like I pointed out earlier, Carlos takes place in a dozen different countries and features nearly the same amount of different languages spoken in the film. But the French director Oliver Assayas does a spectacular job that keeps everything in focus.
One of the best, if not the best, scene of the film lasts for nearly 2 hours. Yes, one scene last for 2 hours of the film. It features Carlos and his cohorts raiding the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria. They take hostages, make their demands, shoot up the place and finally make a grand escape on a massive jet to the Middle East. The whole thing is a wonder of smart directing and editing and is completely exhilarating.
If you’ve seen Steven Spielberg’s highly underrated and fantastic Munich, I’ll break it down like this. There are 3 parts to Munich. The first part of the film sets up Eric Bana’s mission. Then there is the whole middle section of the film where Bana and his crew rip Europe apart as they look for the terrorists responsible for killing Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. Bombing, shooting doing anything they need to do for revenge. The final part of Munich is the aftermath of Bana’s mission. Carlos is 5 and a half hours of the middle section of Munich. It’s all action and it’s done insanely well.
I personally am not a huge fan of action films, but this film does it so well and is so smart about it. The people, the locations are all authentic. Everything about the film is top notch, from the costumes to the production design. Carols feels like it was made in that era and evokes a feeling of nostalgia for people like me who love films from the 70’s. It feels like you are in Europe behind Carlos’ back with him as he does work.
It’s always refreshing to see something different. Is Carlos long? Yes. But the pacing is so well done and so interesting and fascinating that you do not care. What I did with the film was watched it over 3 nights. Part 1 one night, part 2 the second night and the third on the final night. To make it easier Netflix actually has it in 3 parts. So do yourself a favor and watch the best film of the year about the man who hijacked the world.