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 Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1970, recruiting officer Bassam Abu Sharif gave him the code name "Carlos" because of his South American roots. After several bungled bombings, Carlos achieved notoriety for the 1975 raid on the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, which killed three people. This was followed by a string of attacks against Western targets. For many years he was among the most wanted international fugitives. Carlos was dubbed "The Jackal" by The Guardian newspaper after one of its correspondents reportedly spotted Frederick Forsyth's 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal near some of the fugitive's belongings.
It's good and worth watching to the end, by which time I was beginning to realise how much I had enjoyed Mesrine more - a film with which 'Carlos' is often compared - because while Edgar Ramirez (as Carlos) does a better than decent job in the central role, ultimately he or the role he plays lacks the charisma of Vincent Kassel in Mesrine, which has better credentials as a cinematic film. Carlos (as a film) is interesting rather than entertaining, and since his demise is relatively well-known, the ending was rather less gripping than much of what had gone before.
The musical score is slightly distracting at times, seeming rather out of place with the 1970s and 1980s. The set-pieces of Paris, Syria and Libya in the 70s and 80s were, I thought, very well portrayed and authentic.
In the end, Ramírez just about carries the film as he is obliged to do, but it's not the memorable experience of such comparable tales as De Niro (as Jake la Motta) in Raging Bull, nor Kassell as Mesrine. Once you take Ramírez out of the picture and analyse what else is on offer, it's probably a little too faithful to actual or alleged events to make for entertaining dramatic fare. I'd give it 3.5 stars for being halfway between 'it's OK' and 'I like it'.
So get those pizzas ordered, and maybe a few beers, because this will be a long watch - just about a worthwhile one though.