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

Reviews Counted: 149

85%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 14,935

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

85%
Average Rating: 4.2/5

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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 (149) | Top Critics (41)

  • 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

A shocking and terrifying film that sets out to investigate the twisted minds and souls of death squad leaders in Indonesia, growing to become a disturbing panorama of a society and offering a unique sort of moral confrontation which could only be possible through Cinema.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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 Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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 Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

While extremely painful to watch, "The Act of Killing" displays a brutally honest story about the life of Anwar Congo, a gangster who helped the mob kill millions of communists. This film displays he himself re-enacting scenes of actual events that he remembers from the past. He puts on display for the world to see, the horrific ways of killing people and sometimes you feel like throwing up while you are watching. Anwar begins to realize that even though what he did back then was legal, he himself, after personally experiencing the effects, has a complete turn around with his feelings. This film is something that needs to be shown to the world, but only to those who are mature enough to view. I will never say I love this film, based on it's subject matter, but it is a brilliant documentary that almost feels like a shoe-in for the Oscars. "The Act of Killing" is superb in it's messages.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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