Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn review – an oddly constructed crime documentary

By Marc Miller
Published: October 27, 2022 (Last updated: January 5, 2024)


Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn is an oddly constructive documentary that needed to delve into greater detail about the subject’s childhood, charges, and escape from authorities.

Netflix documentary film Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn was released on October 26th, 2022 – this is our official review.

The most curious case of the Netflix documentary, Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn may be the filmmaker’s overt attempts to throw a wrench in the standard documentary itself. Who is this actor whom Director Lucy Blakstad has introduced herself? The one that then pretends to be a person who worked for Carlos Ghosn? Then gives us updates at oddly placed times for no rhyme or reason. It occurred to me during this peculiar documentary that it’s all a misdirection and sleight of hand. This a minimal distraction from the fact that nothing new is being added to Carlos Ghosn’s story, even at a brisk 95 minutes.

Yet, it’s hard not to make a crime documentary interesting, especially when wealthy corporate overlords are involved. The film follows former Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, who made millions upon millions of dollars by cutting underlings’ jobs, salaries, and even their office supplies. Still, his salary went up more than the head of Ford. While, yes, he saved companies and not only made them solvent but exceedingly profitable, he did it on the backs of his employees who took on extra work. Many, especially in France, killed themselves by jumping off footbridges inside corporate headquarters.

Ghosn was a greedy man but a brilliant one. Nissan was a couple of steps from closing its doors before he came along. When Ghosn wanted to merge the two companies after 20 years, the backstabbing, finger-pointing, and claws came out. Ghosn was arrested and held under house arrest in Japan for financial misconduct. For what? Ghosn was accused by the current Nissan CEO (the subject of the documentary moved to the chairperson by the time of the arrest) of using corporate money for personal use and under-reporting his income. Apparently, there is no such thing as a working vacation in Japan and France.

Where Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn goes wrong is it takes too much time to cover Ghosn’s rise and staying power at the top of two large car companies instead of tackling the most interesting issues. Like, what he has been accused of and detailing that accusation of financial fraud, true or not. The other is his escape, which is covered in the last ten minutes. Depending on how you look at it, this could have added more excitement to a stagnant glorified puff piece or smear campaign.

When it comes to Carlos Ghosn’s curious attempt at escaping, it appears we get an interview where Ghosn explains why he left Japan. He accuses the country of being corrupt. If you look at Japan’s conviction rate, it is at a staggering 99%. However, only 37% of all cases get to court because Japan’s judicial system does a thorough pretrial process.

It can easily be surmised that Ghosn may have been afraid. He most certainly would have been convicted if the case had gone to trial based on the odds. Yet, his lawyer states on camera that the authorities didn’t have enough to convict when looking at the evidence. The men and women Ghosn used to help him escape all had legal trouble and were convicted of crimes later, which goes back to his same history of people who work for him getting punished while he walks away clean.

The documentary Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn covers little to no new ground on the subject but offers a thorough look at this man’s rise. However, Blakstad never goes into depth about the escape, the charges, and Ghosn’s childhood. That subject would reveal what made the man tick. In truth, the documentary has the ingredients, but more time was needed to flesh out the film for a cohesive and complete story. And again, there’s that oddly placed actor that has little to do with the story that makes the entire experience a curious one.

What did you think of Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn? Comment below.

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