By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated October 10, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Genevieve Chauvel/Sygma/Corbis

The title Terror’s Advocate is both a statement of fact and a worrisome understatement in a documentary as slippery as its subject. Jacques Vergès is a French lawyer (un avocet) who prides himself on having defended some of the world’s Most Wanted, among them Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, and the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal. What sort of a man can summon so much sympathy for the devil? Vergès, now in his 80s, just smiles mysteriously, maddeningly, while filmmaker Barbet Schroeder offers up a rogues’ gallery of evildoers Vergès has known. B+

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