Uli Edel's The Baader Meinhof Complex, quite fittingly described as the birth of modern terrorism, is the story of the Red Army Faction (RAF), who began terrorizing West Germany in the early 1970's to combat a climate of both global and local imperialism.
A 2008 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, (released in the U.S. this year) it charts the formation of the RAF through its three key members, Ulrich Meinhof (Martina Gedeck), Andreas Baader (Moritz Bliebtreu) and Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek) and, in the end, their influence on future generations of juvenile drop-outs and the like.
It has been congratulated and rewarded for its refusal to condemn or champion the acts of the RAF in its depictions. The first half is a seductively rebellious political-brusier, with our revolutionaries and their wigs, aviator glasses and hip-hugging jeans committing acts of pre-meditated, yet seemingly random bouts of terrorism.
Then in the second half, it takes on a more reflective tone as our heroes begin to question and witness the outcome or results of their now-condemnable actions (as they share a confined prison cell). It is in these scenes where The Baader Meinhof Complex both stirs and underwhelms in its arms-length approach. It's an extremely well-acted and well-crafted film, compulsively watchable the way a great documentary or historical account would be, but I didn't feel the desired impact by the time it was over. It's a silenced handgun -- it gets the job done, but it doesn't resonate very loudly.