Essential Killing
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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, in part because an explosion has made it difficult for him to hear what they're saying.… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Under the guise of current events, Skolimowski artfully conjures an elemental archetype of human life itself. In English, Polish, and Arabic."
‑ Richard Brody, New Yorker
"Delivering an absolute minimum of context, the film dares us to forge our own reasons for rooting for or despising this savage."
‑ David Jenkins, Time Out
"What is striking about it, of course, is the way that the filmmaker manages to garner sympathy for an essential villain."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"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."
‑ Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews
"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."
‑ Dan Fainaru, Screen International
"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."
‑ Rick Groen, Globe and Mail
"The movie deftly shifts from its initial chase thriller mode to a grueling, offbeat tale of human survival."
‑ Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
"An astonishingly dull piece of work..."
‑ David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
"...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."
‑ Robin Clifford, Reeling Reviews
"Gallo does his best acting work since appearing in his own directorial debut Buffalo 66 13 years ago."
‑ Alistair Harkness, Scotsman
"View it as an existential thriller illustrating how violence begets violence."
‑ Peter Howell, Toronto Star
"Skolimowski's fresh approach keeps us on guard."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Gallo's humanity is reduced to its naked essence"
‑ Marty Mapes, Movie Habit
"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."
‑ Graham Young, Birmingham Post
"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."
‑ Tony Rayns, Sight and Sound
More reviews for Essential Killing on Rotten Tomatoes

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