Essential Killing (2010)
Average Rating: 6.2/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 5
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Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 0
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 2,528
A soldier must fight for his own survival as well as the cause of his people in this powerful drama from acclaimed Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski. A pair of American security operatives (Zach Cohen and Iftach Ofir) are on patrol in Afghanistan when they stumble upon a Taliban fighter (Vincent Gallo), who kills them despite his terror and nervousness. While trying to escape, the Afghan is captured by American forces; he's tortured during interrogation, but doesn't tell the Americans anything,
Jan 24, 2012
HanWay Films - Official Site
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Under the guise of current events, Skolimowski artfully conjures an elemental archetype of human life itself. In English, Polish, and Arabic.
Stripped of its political vestments, Essential Killing is a chase film almost existential in its rawness and virtually silent in its unfolding -- just a pursued man reduced by circumstance to a primitive state.
View it as an existential thriller illustrating how violence begets violence.
Delivering an absolute minimum of context, the film dares us to forge our own reasons for rooting for or despising this savage.
The movie deftly shifts from its initial chase thriller mode to a grueling, offbeat tale of human survival.
What is striking about it, of course, is the way that the filmmaker manages to garner sympathy for an essential villain.
On its surface, "Essential Killing" is a chase and survival thriller, but through his protagonist's actions, first in war, then for survival, and ultimately through his ironic ending, Skolimowski couldn't be clearer in his political intent.
...a unique film in concept and execution. Brief moments of action are interspersed with Mohammed's struggle to survive the elements, hunger and a pursuing enemy.
Although in terms of its core elements, Essential Killing feels as familiar as any standard Hollywood chase movie, from the Bourne and Rambo series to The Fugitive, Skolimowski ensures this is a wholly different kind of experience.
Whatever narrative shortcomings the picture might have, as a parable of these days it is certainly serviceable, though a bit too ambivalent for comfort. Visually, however, it is never less than stunning.
Gallo does his best acting work since appearing in his own directorial debut Buffalo 66 13 years ago.
Essential Killing would be much less powerful if it didn't show the jihadi's physical sufferings with such visceral immediacy, and if the realism weren't strong enough to deliver surrealist shocks like the staggering final image.
An arresting snow-bound oddity concerning a character you can't care for and yet feel compelled to watch.
The minimalism feels a bit affected, but as a near-abstract rumination on war and survival, it has a certain stark potency.
An abstract chase movie inspired by the war on terror, it starts well but fades into irrelevance.
The stark, propulsive filmmaking and Gallo's impressively committed performance must be judged against the evasiveness of its maker's motivations.
Director Jerzy Skolimowski has no time for politics, dialogue or anything approaching complexity; he simply tells a story about a man trying to survive in an utterly foreign world from one moment to the next, at any cost.
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