ORIGINALLY A THREE-PART miniseries shot for French television, Carlos is the five-and-a-half-hour biopic of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez—better known as Carlos the Jackal. The infamous Venezuelan terrorist coordinated, among other atrocities, the 1975 raid on OPEC in Vienna in the name of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (which later disavowed him). More than two decades of his life are documented in the mammoth Carlos, and the Northwest Film Center is screening the whole damn thing—with a brief intermission for your poor bladder—but there's little benefit to watching it all at once.
That's because Carlos, while containing very good elements—including Édgar Ramírez's strong performance as Carlos, and the excellent Nora von Waldstätten as his beleaguered wife, Magdalena—is unfocused and rambling, opting to chase down every last detail in Carlos' horrific career rather than hunt for a narrative thread. It contains gripping passages, including the brutal OPEC raid, but on the whole, Carlos feels stitched together. There are so many consecutive scenes of people getting in and out of cars, and so many shifts in locale and language, that it becomes monotonous. And despite nearly six hours of screen time, we never really learn how Carlos' freedom-seeking ideology turned him into such a monster.