The Baader Meinhof Complex

Part thriller, part social history, this tense 2008 drama traces the rise and fall of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, a violent communist terror group whose track record of carnage across West Germany in the late 60s and early 70s made the Weather Underground look like a tea party. Adapting a book by Stefan Aust, writer-director Uli Edel takes the time to particularize the German political climate beyond the usual 60s boilerplate before plunging into the heated personal politics inside the gang, whose opposite poles were a ruthless criminal, Andreas Baader, and an intellectual journalist, Ulrike Meinhof. The gang’s deadly wave of bombings and bank robberies is electrifying, but the movie becomes even more engrossing after the principals are captured in 1972: awaiting trial in prison, they eventually turn on one another and watch helplessly as a new generation of terrorists invokes their names but distorts their ideas.  Opens September 11 at Landmark’s Century Centre. —J.R. Jones