It doesn’t deliver what you’d call a “pleasant” sit, but it’s about as intense and feisty as a political film like this could or should get, and every so often it plays like a good gangster/bank-robber film.
I wrote the following after catching it about 20 months ago:
“What can you say about a tough-minded, hard-nosed political drama that tells the truth, doesn’t mince words or pull punches, rekindles the viral excitement of a bygone era, offers several gripping performances and leaves you with a taste of ashes in your soul?
“This is the reality of The Baader Meinhof Complex — Uli Edel’s 149-minute drama about the famed German radical leftist group. It’s a strong but bleak account of the impassioned but self-destructive insanity that took hold among radical lefties in the late ’60s and ’70s, and which manifested with a particular ferocity and flamboyance among the Baader-Meinhoffers.
“Edel’s chops are fine, the story is the story, what happened is what happened, but my God…what do you do with a history of this sort? And where in this saga is a semblance of a common cultural current? It’s not as if a willingness to kill or be killed for one’s political beliefs is something that comes up these days on Sunday mornings at Starbucks after you’ve had your morning run.
“Maybe more of us should think and act in terms of life-or-death commitments. Maybe we’d be better off if more of us had the cojones to stand up and fight evil in a way that gives no quarter. But the film mainly sinks in as a revisiting of a time in which a small but dead-serious sector of the left-liberal community temporarily lost its bearings and in some cases jumped off a cliff in order to stop what they saw as a form of absolute establishment evil.”
Say it one last time: this sucker should have been called The Baader Meinhof Gang. You always need to think in popcorn terms when deciding on a title, and popcorn munchers don’t know from complexes. This is basically a high-voltage shoot ’em up about a political-minded Barrow gang that ends in death, jail and suicide.”