Essential Killing

Essential Killing

A high-octane chase thriller, Essential Killing eschews the moral and ideological implications of the “War on Terror” instead paring it down to its bare bones, to the issue of survival. Withholding locations and character names acclaimed director Jerzy Skolimowski (The Shout, Moonlighting) creates a dark fantasy which shows that in war and brute, primal survival situations, every man can be both predator and prey. 3.2 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
Essential Killing

Omniscore:

Certificate 15
Genre Drama, Thriller
Director Jerzy Skolimowski
Cast Emmanuelle Seigner Vincent Gallo
Studio Artificial Eye
Release Date April 2011
Running Time 83 mins
 

A high-octane chase thriller, Essential Killing eschews the moral and ideological implications of the “War on Terror” instead paring it down to its bare bones, to the issue of survival. Withholding locations and character names acclaimed director Jerzy Skolimowski (The Shout, Moonlighting) creates a dark fantasy which shows that in war and brute, primal survival situations, every man can be both predator and prey.

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Reviews

The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

What is so startling about Essential Killing is that it is almost entirely silent. Gallo's Mohammed does not say a single word throughout his ordeal, except some muffled, garbled phrases during flashback sequences. All we have is Gallo's vivid presence and that extraordinary, hawk-like face, blazing with the determination to stay alive. Of course, in strict realist terms, his escape is not quite plausible...

31/03/2011

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Time Out

David Jenkins

...a ruthless, darkly funny survival movie charged with provocative political undertones.

31/03/2011

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Total Film

Philip Kemp

Given the intensity of the storytelling, occasional slips in plot logic hardly matter. Essential Killing picked up the special Jury Prize at Venice, with a Best actor award for Gallo. Two gongs thoroughly deserved.

22/03/2011

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Variety

Leslie Felpering

Despite skillful assemblage, the script's plausibility issues increasingly undermine engagement

06/09/2010

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The Observer

Philip French

The Polish film-maker Jerzy Skolimowski, friend and collaborator of Roman Polanski (he co-scripted Knife in the Water), was one of the major international talents of the European cinema of the 1960s and 70s. But apart from pursuing his other career of painting, he's done little of interest since the excellent Moonlighting in 1982. So Essential Killing is something of a comeback, if a relatively minor one. It's a stark, pared down, existential pursuit story...

03/04/2011

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The Los Angeles Times

Gary Goldstein

Gallo, who was named best actor at this year's Venice Film Festival, proves galvanizing without uttering a single word (there's precious little dialogue here). Rarely has such strict physicality been used on screen to such potent effect.

02/12/2010

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The Sunday Times

Edward Porter

Made by the intriguing auteur Jerzy Skolimowski, it’s a film that grips you with its nonstop action, whether or not you see any deep, rewarding meaning therein.

03/04/2011

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

It could almost have been made as a silent movie, which is a credit both to Gallo's performance and Skolimowski's pared-down storytelling.

01/04/2011

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Empire Magazine

David Parkinson

Conveying the fear and ferocity that won him the Best Actor prize at Venice, Gallo delivers a laudably physical performance. The visceral camerawork and curt editing are also impressive, but flashbacks to his Islamic indoctrination seem scant inspiration for his slaying of three Americans.

01/04/2011

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The Financial Times

Nigel Andrews

Where others see a feral tale of survival – not just essential killing but essential robbing, essential raw-fish-eating, even essential breastfeeding as he holds a young mother at gunpoint – I see a succession of far-fetched plot turns to which Skolimowski blinds us, or tries, with politically challenging subject matter.

30/01/2011

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The Independent on Sunday

Nicholas Barber

Skolimowski tells his story with taut economy, but the distractingly manic Vincent Gallo seems to treat it as his own private Outward Bound course.

03/04/2011

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