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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 great films...
Cant recommend this highly enough. Incredible directing, acting and cinematography lavished on a story worthy of the time, money and effort. It's film making that credits the viewer with intelligence and doesn't dumb down like so many Hollywood films do. Ramirez is superb as the preening,narcissistic international terrorist come international playboy. The film feels...
Published on 12 Nov. 2010 by BigRich

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More of a (very long) dramaticised documentary than a film
This is a biopic of Venezuelan Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, later to become better known as Carlos the Jackal - although he is never referred to as The Jackal at any time in this very long film. A committed Marxist-Leninist idealist, Carlos is widely regarded as one of the most famous political terrorists of his era. When he joined the Popular Front for the...
Published on 20 Oct. 2012 by O E J

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling View of an Radical Outlaw, 6 April 2012
pjr (London, England) - See all my reviews
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"Carlos The Jackal" joins the small list of terrorist biographies which have crept onto our screens in the last few years. From Baader-Mienhoff to the IRA the stories are being told of people who some might see as either folk heroes or modern day pariahs. Carlos is probably the most problematic of the current group as he was far more mercenary than some. Consequently from a political perspective he is somewhat harder to understand.

It is this dilemma that director Olivier Assayas tries to explore. His biggest challenge is to try and sort out the myth from the truth. The work commences with an explanation that this has been researched but that despite some in-depth work done on this matter (and living protagonists to draw upon) Assayas clearly acknowledges the almost impossible task of spltting the myth from the actual fact. Carlos was media savvy in a time before many fully understood the power of the media in creating a mythical persona. Assayas calls upon his audience to view this as a work of fiction.

What then takes place is a story of very epic proportions. Assayas tries to present not just a story of a radical invloved in many infamous and high profile terrorist incidents but also look at the person behind the story. Here his casting of Edgar Ramirez as Carlos is inspired. Ramirez clearly bears a passing resemblance and also gives a startlingly convincing performance of a man whose main aim seems to be to wage war on imperialism. Its a wonderfully charismatic and compelling performance which holds the attention throughout the 5+ hours of its duration.

Whilst there is a shorter cinematic version of this piece it's worth seeing the full version origninally shot for French TV. Here you get not just the action and the build up but also a lot of the political machinations behind the scenes showing that Carlos was very much a political player. This adds an interesting dimension to the piece and although I suspect that this is not exactly based on absolute truth it presents the more problematic side of his persona very well. Compared to many of his contemporiaries Carlos was clearly something of a mercenary than some. This provides a very revealing insight into how some states were also involved in terrorism and times the feeling is that you're watching a man who is doing the covert bidding of Governments - with little sense of the outlaw approach many would consider these acts to have been at the time.

The highlights of the series (split here into 3 parts) are mainly based around the major events. The attempted shooting down of an Isaeli jumbo jet early on is a shocking more for the fact that the group walk calmly into the airport almost unchallenged. The OPEC seige is covered in great detail and forms the centrepiece and includes the almost farcical aftermath where the group fly around North Africa trying to find somewhere to land and stay. The climax is also fascinating in depicting Carlos as something of an irrelevance clinging to ideas and ideals which belong to another era. It is complelling stuff throughout and has a great supporting cast to commend it too. The only slight false note is the soundtrack which rather puzzlingly veers across the punk/post-punk divide. It is never less than tasteful but could perhaps have been organised to ensure that the songs fitted the times the scenes they were depicting. That said it was nice to hear a number of well chosen Wire songs alongside some great music from the likes of New Order and A Certain Ratio.

Whatever this work is, fiction or fact, or a curious imagining of the two, "Carlos The Jackal" is an engrossing look into the life of an enigmatically mysetrious figure.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carlos, 5 Dec. 2010
Oyomesi (London, England) - See all my reviews
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Terrorism as a sub-species of warfare, civil insurrection, and as an apparatus of state oppression has existed for millennia. The slaughter of high status officials, combatants, civilians as well as the destruction of property, is a weapon which is purposefully calibrated so as to effect a result in which the level of psychological damage exceeds the attendant human and material destruction.

As a tool of liberation, there is some evidence of its success. The terror tactics utilised by the Kenyan Mau Mau, although a largely defeated group, created the circumstances in which the British will to continue to govern Kenya was sapped as was the will of the French to continue their war with the FLN of Algeria.

The assassination of Admiral Carrero Blanco in 1973 by Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, the Basque separatist group, is seen as one of the pivotal moments in the dismantling of the Francoist state and the transition to the democratization of Spanish society.

The 1970s saw an upsurge in ideologically motivated domestic terrorism in many European capital cities. The West German Baader-Meinhoff group rebelled against the post-World War economic order which they interpreted as being merely a reincarnation of the Third Reich, while Italy saw the Marxist-Leninist Red Brigade trade bombings and assassinations with the sinister forces of the extreme right in the era of Strategia della tensione. In other countries, nationalism and separatist aims motivated the actions of the Irish Republican Army in Britain and E.T.A. in Spain.

Concomitant to this, from the late 1960s and on to the next decade was the development of terrorism as an international instrument for revolutionary warfare.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (P.F.L.P.) in combination with groups like the German Revolutionary Cells (G.R.C.) and the Japanese Red Army Faction traversed national borders wreaking havoc through a succession of high profile airline hijackings, kidnappings and assassinations.

In the midst of a lot of these happenings was Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, who would become better known by his media cognomen of `Carlos the Jackal', the subject of a biopic by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas.

Carlos, the son of a Venezuelan Marxist lawyer, was born into upper middle class privilege and would become a superstar terrorist subject to a macabre form of celebrity interest; so effectively becoming a poster boy for 1970s terrorism in the manner that the Argentine Che Guevara had been for 1960s guerrilla movements.

Already the subject of a number of books as well as investigatory documentaries, it was perhaps something of an inevitability that he would at some point become the focus of a film given the alchemy of violence, personal mystery and international intrigue that surrounded his life.

Carlos did not fit the mould of the anonymous `soldier' acting selflessly for a cause. It appeared that he was a buccaneering figure, somewhat a mercenary, and certainly a maverick.

Truth can be an elusive commodity when dealing with a character like Carlos whose role, ironically given his public notoriety, made him well-practised in the dark arts of stealth and deception.

The director does well to warn of the grey areas in the various renditions of Carlos's life and exploits, and to inform viewers that the depictions of personal relations are fictionalised. Assayas is also prudent in only depicting the murders attributed by Carlos for which he has been formally tried and convicted.

Although made largely under the auspices of the French Canal Plus cable company, Carlos has the feel and quality of a motion picture. Assayas, shot the scenes in cinemascope format; favouring a documentary-like mode by which events unfold and avoiding the heavily stylised visual cadences of a Paolo Sorrentino.

And it works. The movie is well-paced and possesses a sense of realism that is heightened with the interspersing of original news report footage of relevant events with the scripted reconstructions of the intrigues within which Carlos was involved.

As a period piece, it successfully depicts the era: from the cars parked on the streets of Paris and London, the clothes worn, right down to the sideburns cultivated by lead actor, Edgar Ramirez.

The eclecticism of the soundtrack which has music by artists ranging from purveyors of post-punk like The Wire and Deadboys to the Malian songstress Oumou Sangare, is matched by the international scope of location shooting which included London, Paris, The Hague, Vienna, Lebanon and Yemen.

Another refreshingly multi-dimensional aspect of the movie contributing to its realism, are the languages spoken in scenes: English, Spanish, French, German and Arabic.

Ably portrayed by Ramirez, who like Carlos is of Venezuelan nationality, the anti-hero turns out to be passionate about his beliefs, but also vain and something of a cad in his use of women. Assayas's scripted dialogue refers to and offers explanations on a number of previously underexplored areas of Carlos's career notably in regard to the reason why he decided to cast his lot with the Palestinian cause under the aegis of Wadi Haddad's P.F.L.P. in a largely European `theatre of war.'

There were after all, during this period of time a plethora of violently suppressive right wing regimes across Latin America from the Tierra del Fuego to the jungles of Central America.

Would his ideological pretentions, it is worth asking, have been better served if he had honed his freedom fighting instincts by combating the dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Chile or fought alongside the Sandinistas in Nicaragua or hunted the Salvadorian death squads of Major D'Aubuisson?

It is left to the viewer to make something of an informed appraisal of Carlos. Did he remain true to the Marxist principles instilled in him from an early age by his father? And did his actions achieve his goals?

Regarding the latter, the film depicts several failures including the attempt to shoot down an El Al aeroplane at Orly Airport, such that Carlos's cohorts could have been monikered as "the gang that couldn't shoot straight".

Certainly, the acts of terrorism perpetrated, while bringing attention to the Palestinian cause arguably did little to further it. Palestine is still not liberated, and it was Yasir Arafat's `olive branch in one hand and the gun in the other' approach (along with help of the Intifada) which led to the minimal concessions to date by the Israeli side.

Much of Carlos's legend has been demystified over the years and Assayas's portrait is not far from what several believe he became, if he had not already been that way in the first place: a suave, cravat wearing fop who was bourgeois rather than proletarian in his image and in his preferred style of living.

His motivations were seemingly geared towards high living; consuming fine food, fine drink and fine women in almost equal measure.

Carlos, of course, is not the only idealistic revolutionary to be scrutinized and found to be wanting.

Among the secular, radical Marxist-Leninists found in the ranks of the young Palestinian militants who daubed Mosques with Lenin's sayings and who denounced materialism from the microphones used by the muezzins, were many charlatans who while professing to confiscate luxury items such as Mercedes cars "in the name of the Proleteriat"; were actually indulging in thievery disguised as ideological conviction.

The ending of the Cold War proved to be Carlos's undoing as indeed it did for the remnant-survivor terrorists of his era. And although not referred to in the film, the change in the world order since the fall of the Berlin Wall reveals Carlos's opportunism and his principles.

Ever the contrarian, he now professes radical Islam to be the only valid means of unshackling nations from the grasp of capitalist subservience; once announcing himself as being an admirer of the secular Saddam Hussein who he described as "the last Arab knight" and also Osama Bin Laden, the chief symbol of Jihadist terror.

Assayas's film faithfully chronicles the known circumstances of Carlos's downfall, first as an outcast in the post-Cold War world, and then his capture as a middle-aged, paunchy, inactive figure largely insignificant to a world which had once revelled in his infamy.

It was always going to be too much to live up to the legend that was Carlos.

Adeyinka Makinde (2010)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, 20 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Carlos The Jackal [DVD] (DVD)
Great film, worth watching
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A first rate film, well-made and well-acted., 4 Dec. 2010
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What a brilliant Director for this film. It was filmed mostly in the countries where the action actually happened, using local actors. The man who plays Carlos is wonderful, looks like him, and can speak all the same languages as the real Carlos. The music too is terrific and suits the film. When I see a film about real events, I like and admire accuracy - this film has it!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars really worth watching, 12 Dec. 2012
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great action, gripping watch. some subtitles.but only where needed . the work and research that must have gone into this must have been amazing. a real thriller from begining to the end, a must to watch.
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overlong, tedious and dry account of what ought to be a fascinating subject, 24 Nov. 2010
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
Olivier Assayas is one of France's great modern film directors. He has perhaps lost his way a little over recent years, but showed a remarkable return to form in his last feature, the delicate and subtle Summer Hours. Made for TV as three films, totalling nearly six hours in length, Carlos however is an incredibly dry and dull account of the activities of the notorious international terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos (Carlos the Jackal in the UK), who came to prominence in the 70s through a series of daring raids, plane hijackings and assassinations. Other than the director's trademark fine choice of music used in the films, there is almost no trace of the style, structure or the care in characterisation that one would normally associate with an Olivier Assayas film. If Summer Hours was one step forward, Carlos is three steps back.

Carlos is a shapeless mess, with no structure and no sense of purpose, just a linear progression through a couple of decades of terror attacks, with little in the way of context, and, surprisingly, little flair even in the key action scenes. The acting moreover is uniformly bad throughout - really, really poor acting, with only the multilingual Edgar Ramirez having sufficient presence to just about hold the series together (although occasionally unintelligible in heavily-accented English). A film about such an important and enigmatic fugure, one involved moreover in complex international affairs during a very volatile political period, should really be much more interesting than this.

At the very least, giving Carlos' tedious domestic problems almost equal attention with his terrorist activities, Assayas has succeeded in de-glamorising someone who is recognised as a very vain, flawed and dangerous individual, but really, in dramatisation Carlos fails to shed any new light on the man or suggest any previously unknown qualities. The true nature of Carlos remains elusive and no clearer than those of Jacques Mesrine, covered last year in two films by Jean-François Richet, but at least those films were infinitely more stylish and entertaining than Carlos. If you are at all interested in the subject, you would be better off reading a biography, since, as a film, Carlos has nothing to offer but a relatively straightforward if rather confusing and overlong TV-movie account. And if you must see the film, watch the short theatrical version first - both versions are included in the 3-disc Blu-ray set. It could save you losing six hours of your life that, as they say, you'll never get back.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars when truth is stranger than fiction, 22 Jan. 2011
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I was perceptive when I bought this dvd. It won the Golden globe award for best TV series but it's more than that ; it's a real movie which tells a chapter in our history.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars subtitles, 10 Oct. 2013
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it would be a good idea to put the subtitle languages of the dvd. The purchase would be more accurate.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wierd ! This is NOT a wildlife DVD, 3 Mar. 2015
WTF ? a guy i no said i should watch this. like i say, as a fan of Elsa The Lioness i was expecting a sinilar film but in a nutshell about a jackal (called 'Carlos') - the famed African wild dog. Wierdly the hole film is about a guy with a bierd running around with a gun. That said, it is quiet good and there is a lot of suspense, ect, plus some gr8 preformances. next time please give a title that tells us just WTF the fill is a bout !! 2 stars !!
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5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weakest of the 'trilogy', 6 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Carlos The Jackal [DVD] (DVD)
It's probably unfair, but I can't help thinking of 'Carlos', 'The Baader-Meinhof Complex' and 'Mesrine' as a kind of trilogy. They deal with the same period of recent history and have similar subject matter, but I feel 'Carlos' loses out by comparison with the other two. They're essentially political thrillers as shoot-em-ups, with all the requisite pace and edge, whereas 'Carlos' lacks these qualities and comes across as a history lesson, though not a very well-taught one. An example of this is the on-screen titles identifying a new character and their 'job', if you can call it that, but you learn next to nothing in the film's action about their background, or why they're a player in this drama. Had I not lived through the events depicted in the film, I'm not sure I'd have been any the wiser as to who these people were, or what motivated them. Maybe, to be fair, that all comes out in the full-length version, but I can only comment on the abridgemet that I've seen, hence the two star rating.
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