The Act Of Killing

2013

The Act Of Killing

Critics Consensus

Raw, terrifying, and painfully difficult to watch, The Act of Killing offers a haunting testament to the edifying, confrontational power of documentary cinema.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 151

85%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 14,951
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Movie Info

Anwar Congo and his friends have been dancing their way through musical numbers, twisting arms in film noir gangster scenes, and galloping across prairies as yodelling cowboys. Their foray into filmmaking is being celebrated in the media and debated on television, even though Anwar Congo and his friends are mass murderers. Medan, Indonesia. When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends were promoted from small-time gangsters who sold movie theatre tickets on the black market to death squad leaders. They helped the army kill more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in less than a year. As the executioner for the most notorious death squad in his city, Anwar himself killed hundreds of people with his own hands. (c) Official Site

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Critic Reviews for The Act Of Killing

All Critics (151) | Top Critics (42)

  • The Act of Killing is the only 100% original work of cinema to come out this year.

    Feb 21, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • If Oppenheimer's aim is to question and investigate what life the past has in the present, he has succeeded in a staggeringly original way.

    Jan 3, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The originality of The Act of Killing lies in Oppenheimer's decision to treat artifice as a roundabout path to truth.

    Dec 16, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Bizarre, hypnotic, audacious.

    Dec 16, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The emotional places this troubling movie takes him to are rewardingly primal and potent, forcing both subject and viewer to wrestle with internal demons.

    Dec 16, 2013 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Keith Uhlich

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • I certainly do not move that the film should be suppressed, only that one should know what it is. It is a bath in a smiling madness.

    Nov 14, 2013 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Act Of Killing

  • Oct 04, 2015
    I think this would be called a Danish mondo film.Oppenheimer travelled to Indonesia to do a documentary on the Indonesian Killings where national socialists were killing communists and the Chinese for the sake of "unity" and "social justice." The Indonesian state hired thugs to carry these tasks out and this is a dramatization of what happened in the past as well as the the reign of terror being continued in the present. If this film doesn't bore you to death, you are not viewing it right. It's scary to see how the Indonesians idolized these gangsters with weird definitions (free man) as well as the celebration of violence as a justification of whatever means to achieve their fascist end. All I can say is, don't waste your time on this documentary with its twisted agenda or you will end up like me wanting to simply annihilate the God forsaken Indonesia as a whole.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • May 27, 2014
    Documentarians ask the leaders of Indonesian death squads to reenact their crimes. There are some incredibly absurd moments in the reenactments of various fifty-year-old murders, including one of the henchmen dressing up in drag for no discernible reason. But the heart of this documentary is compelling the film's primary subject to face his own flagging, ignored conscience. It takes a while, and there are blithe pronouncements about death and killing that make one's stomach turn, but the film eventually pays off. Overall, the gimmick of the film, the reenactments, seems a little weird, but the premise is still compelling.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 29, 2014
    These may be the most absurd two hours of film I'll ever see. Though this documentary follows many mass murderers as they set out to make a movie boasting about their genocidal slaughters, it focuses in on Anwar Congo. Among these killers, Anwar made the biggest name for himself with his apathy and creativity. At the beginning of the documentary, he upholds his image as an untouchable, joyful and easy-going celebrity "free man." With a smile and tools in hand, he casually recalls and demonstrates his methods. Over the course of these two hours however, his internal transformation is the only thing that will make any sense. The footage here is astounding, and raises an overwhelming amount of questions about Indonesia's history and it's current state, as well as America and the UK's own culpability.
    Matthew S Super Reviewer
  • Mar 04, 2014
    If I say it's shocking, that's be a gross understatement. What unfurls before your eyes is freaking unbelievable. There are dozens of times when I went what the F did I just hear. Yet another stunning demonstration of the power of documentary cinema.
    Anoop K Super Reviewer

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