Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Edgar Ramírez as Ilich Ramírez Sánchez in Carlos

The press called him Carlos the Jackal, but that sobriquet isn't used in Olivier Assayas' 5½-hr. French-TV miniseries, which played in U.S. theaters and on pay-per-view. The famous radical, insurgent, terrorist — call him what you will — possessed a jackal's predatory wiles, planning and executing the 1975 kidnapping of OPEC ministers in Vienna, the bombing of a Paris restaurant, the killing of the French ambassador to Lebanon and his pregnant wife, and the murder of two Paris policemen. Rather than casting explicit judgment on Carlos, Assayas is content to display him, which leaves the challenge of inhabiting the monster to Edgar Ramírez, a Venezuelan actor who appeared in 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum. His acute embodiment captures Carlos with a quick intelligence and a thrilling physicality, whether pausing before a full-length mirror to admire his naked radiance or charming some of his many kidnapping victims. The preening, charismatic Carlos thought of himself as the ultimate movie star of the violent left. If there's any justice, the role will vault Ramírez to his own white-hot celebrity.