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02nd Oct 2017

Goodfellas and Narcos fans rejoice because a piece of ‘cinematic genius’ is on TV later

Paul Moore

94% on Rotten Tomatoes and ‘a stunning piece of work’. Don’t miss it.

Aside from The Departed and Eastern Promises, when was the last time you saw an English-speaking film truly capture the allure, horror, and drama that surrounds terrorism and the gangster life?

In recent years, films like Black Mass, We Own the Night and Gangster Squad haven’t quite hit the bullseye, especially when you compare them to some of the foreign language features that have been released in that time.

Narcos, Gomorrah, A Prophet, Elite Squad and Mesrine (Parts One and Two) are just some examples of shows/films that have become modern cult-classics of the genre and you can add Olivier Assayas’ film Carlos to that list.

While Narcos was concerned with portraying the life of a narcoterrorist that plagued Colombia, Pablo Escobar, Carlos tells the story of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez who, for two decades, was one of the most wanted terrorists on the planet.

Between 1974, in London, where he tried to assassinate a British businessman; and 1994, when he was arrested in Khartoum, he lived several lives under various pseudonyms, weaving his way through the complexities of international politics of the period. Who was Carlos? How did his various multi-layered identities fit together? Who was he before engaging body and soul in a never-ending struggle? The drama is built around these questions.

Since being released in 2010, Carlos has won universal acclaim and it currently has a 94% rating on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

Granted, it’s somewhat lazy to compare one gangster film to Scorsese’s masterpiece Goodfellas – nothing could ever rival that – but the ‘book like’ quality and violent allure of Carlos’ personality has drawn comparisons with the life of Henry Hill.

“Carlos books like no film since Goodfellas. You will not be bored, ever and like Martin Scorsese’s gangster classic, Carlos will be attacked for romanticising a thug’s lifestyle – Time Out.

Other reviews have been also praised the brilliance of this portrayal.

Boston Globe – “It’s a subtle, ultimately staggering portrayal of a bloody-minded ideologue who convinced only himself.”

Empire – “Ramirez’s outstanding performance and Assayes’ superb skill in storytelling make this a mini-series not to be missed.”

LA Times – “A hypnotic and sprawling five-hour-plus piece of cinematic genius from master French filmmaker Olivier Assayas”

Rolling Stone – “It’s a dynamite movie, and you can see it in the full 330-minute version or the 140-minute cut. Either way, see it. It’ll knock you sideways.”

Set record.