Movie Review Rewind: Che (2008)
This film is an experience you will never forget. For good reasons and bad. Che tries to be the masterpiece bio-epic, but it falls short. Of course, the film tells the story of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Well, not his complete story – just the rise of the Cuban Revolution and his failure in Bolivia. The film runs about four hours and 20 minutes. So, the film is split into two parts. Part 1 is called “The Argentine” and Part 2 is called “Guerrilla.” So, lets start with “The Argentine.”
The first part is more interesting than the second. It’s the introduction of Che and shows how he went from being a doctor to one of Fidel Castro’s main men. We see a lot of the tactics used during the Cuban Revolution and how they were effective in overthrowing Fulgencio Batista. Che really captures the essence of war and he becomes a hero to the Cuban people. The first two hours and 10 minutes reveal how Che became the revolutionist and you watch how each city in Cuba was taken over.
Now, the next two hours and 10 minutes is how Che tries to do the same thing in Bolivia. “Guerrilla” is almost like seeing Part 1 again. Except this revolution never takes off and neither does the second part of this film either. Bolivia does not respond to Che like Cuba did. People in his army are soon wanting out or running away. People in Bolivia are turning on him and giving away information about him. He’s eventually caught because of it. He tries and tries. He fights and fights, but his luck runs out. It should not be a surprise when I say he is killed.
Che wanted a revolution everywhere and it started with Cuba. Unfortunately, not everyone wanted a revolution. Not everyone wanted him. I’m sure a lot of people think he should have stayed in Cuba and never have disappeared after the Cuban Revolution. But, he did because he chose to.
I think you should see Che as it was meant to be seen: as a whole. However, I must say that there’s really no reason for this film to have two parts. Each part is too long and too slow. Before Che hit theaters, Steven Soderbergh (the director) cut over 40 minutes off. He should have kept on cutting. There are plenty of times when you see people just walking. That’s all they are doing is walking. Or Che had a very serious asthma, and you watched him try and breathe for 15 minutes. Then you would see it again. Soderbergh separates some slow scenes with some combat sequences. And those are good, but do not save the film.
Now Steven Soderbergh did a good job. It took real dedication to film this and to try and tell such a story. It took guts. This is a long film, but it is also all in English subtitles. He asks a lot of the audience. This will probably be why most people won’t see it. But, what I don’t understand is why Soderbergh didn’t cut down on some of the actual war, and put more focus on who Che was before he joined it.
The film starts with Che at a dinner and talking to Castro, and then they are on a boat going to Cuba. Soderbergh had plenty of time to tell us a little about who Che was and not just what he did. But I will give him credit on his effort of trying to tell such an epic. But just because it’s long as hell does not mean it will be a masterpiece. That film wasted a lot of time. There was so much downtime, and quite a few scenes where there is really nothing going on at all.
But, I will end this on a positive note. The film isn’t terrible by any means. Soderbergh tried and did not completely succeed. The direction was good, but not for the entire time. The story really started to drag on for too long, especially in the second part of the film. But, I can tell you that Soderbergh did not give the greatest effort. The greatest effort was by the man who played Che: Benecio Del Toro.
Del Toro is great in this film. He really gives life to Che, who is such a cultural and political figure. Del Toro proves he is a great actor who was up for an incredible task. Everyone who was a part of this film was dedicated, but Del Toro may have been twice as dedicated. He really works his ass off to tell the story of Che and what kind of man he was.
Del Toro portrayed him as a caring individual who loved his country and respected his people. But, he was also a murderer and had an ego. Can we blame him for that, though? Where there is power, an ego is grown. Del Toro is this film. It takes a lot to carry a film like this and to be in almost every scene of it. So I give credit to its director and more credit to its star. In the end, the direction is good and the acting is great. Unfortunately, the story crumbles down around them and makes this “epic” a disappointment.
“Nature Boy” Brandon Vick is the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and star of Brandon’s Box Office In Your Mouth. Follow him on Twitter@SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.
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