Director: Olivier Assayas
Year Released: 2010
One of the cinema's humanists does a sprawling film about one of Europe's sociopaths, Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (played with multilingual bravado by Édgar Ramírez), starting with his early days doing bombings for the PFLP and slowly earning 'respect' and international infamy, before ending up pudgy, betrayed and used as a political bargaining chip. The TV mini-series runs over five hours long, but the cut I saw is a considerably pared-down 2 ½ hour ride, with the final half-hour feeling considerably chopped up and rushed through. The raid on OPEC is a sequence of crisp, confident filmmaking and the all-over-the-world 'jet setting' suggests that Spielberg's Munich may have been an influence, plus the chain-smoking and womanizing suggest 70's sexism and machismo (and the eventual toll taken on the body with years of neglect and aging). Venezuelan Ramírez was quite literally born to play this role and the way he admires his naked frame pre-exile may be Assayas' way of hinting that for the terrorist, it's considerably more about vanity than politics. How the man ended up not being killed by the likes of the Mossad, KGB, MI6 or the CIA is actually quite an enigma (or miracle) in itself.