Possibly the most brilliant thing about Che: Part Two, as we begin to integrate it with Part One in our minds, is that there is no clarification of why Che chose to confidentially abscond from Cuba after the revolution, no allusion to his experience in the Congo, no clarification of why he chose Bolivia as his subsequent setting for a coup d'etat, no allusion to the political decisions he made as a young man motorcycling across South America, which Walter Salles has given prominent familiarity. Extraordinary focus is given to Che meeting the volunteers who accompany his guerrilla factions. Yet hardly any endeavor is made to single them out as individuals, to establish involved relationships. He is reasonably unreasonable. Che drives an unbreakable doctrine to leave no wounded man behind. But there is no feeling that he is deeply directly concerned with his men. It is the concept.
In Part 1, in Cuba, the rebels are welcomed by the people of the villages, given food and cover, supported in what grows to be a victorious revolution. Here, in Bolivia, not much understanding is apparent. Villagers expose him. They protect government troops, not his own. When he expounds on the onesidedness of the government medical system, his audience appears uninterested. You cannot lead a people into revolution if they do not want to comply. Soderbergh shows U.S. military advisers working with the Bolivians, but doesn't fault the United States for Che's collapse. Che seems to have just misfigured his fight and the place where he wanted to have it.
In showcasing both wars, Soderbergh doesn't build his battle scenes as actions with specific results. Che's men attack and are attacked. They exchange fire with faraway assailants. There is generally a cut to the group in the aftershock of combat, its death toll not paused for. This is not a war movie. It is about one man's reasonably unreasonable drive to endure. There is no elaborate cinematography. Soderbergh looks firmly at Che's inflexible dedication. There are remarkable sporadic visceral shots, but being few they are all the more powerful, such as Che's POV shot during his final beats. There is an abundance of the terrain, where these men live for weeks at a time, and the all-consuming effect is of languor, Guevara himself having malaria part of the time.
Benicio Del Toro, one of the film's producers, gives a champion's performance, not least because it's modest. He isn't portrayed as the cutting edge like most epic heroes. In Cuba, he arises in conquest, in Bolivia, he falls to the reverse, and occasionally is actually difficult to distinguish behind a tangle of beard and hair. Del Toro illustrates not so much an identity as an attitude. You may think the film is too long. I think there's a genuine cause for its breadth. Guevara's affairs in Cuba and particularly Bolivia was not a sequence of episodes and sketches, but an undertaking of staying power that might virtually be called insane. In the end, Che as a whole or in parts is a commercially ballsy movie, one where its director begins by understanding the limits innate in cinematic biography and working progressively within those means.