German filmmaker Uli Edel is wise to the ways of mainstream American entertainment, having been attached as director to several critically acclaimed TV projects (Homicide, The Mists of Avalon). In The Baader-Meinhof Complex, he puts the experience to clever use, tackling a difficult, unwieldy topic through the form of a rousing docudrama.

German filmmaker Uli Edel is wise to the ways of mainstream American entertainment, having been attached as director to several critically acclaimed TV projects (Homicide, The Mists of Avalon). In The Baader-Meinhof Complex, he puts the experience to clever use, tackling a difficult, unwieldy topic through the form of a rousing docudrama.

Based on the true story of terrorist acts that rocked German society in the late '60s and '70s, the film follows the development of the Red Army Faction, a network of urban guerillas who feared a new age of fascism in Germany.

In slick fashion, it covers the titular members of the movement - armed rabble-rouser Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu) and respected journalist-turned-fugitive Meinhof (Martina Gedeck) - and the evolution of their movement into an international force beyond their control.

The sheer amount of information within the film can be a challenge to absorb and leads to several players getting the short shrift, including Meinhof. Beyond the facts, however, Edel builds a powerful awareness of the myriad causes for terrorism, from national pride to personal character flaws, and how difficult they can be to counter.