Movie Review-Essential Killing

Press Release-Releasing on Digital and A critically acclaimed, thinking-man’s action thriller from director Jerzy Skolimowski (The Shout), ESSENTIAL KILLING tells the story of one man’s struggle for survival, where morality has no place as he confronts the necessity to kill in order to survive. Vincent Gallo (Buffalo ’66) gives an award-winning performance (Best Actor, Venice Film Festival) as Mohammed, a Taliban fighter captured by the US military in Afghanistan after a violent desert attack goes awry. While being transported to a secret detention center in Europe, the vehicle crashes and he suddenly finds himself free. But his newfound freedom quickly disappears as he is relentlessly pursued in a snow-blanketed forest by an army that does not “officially” exist. (Tribeca Film).

Review-Vincent Gallo is one of these actors who has such a weird following, people are either going to love or hate his work. There is no in the middle. My first encounter with his work was a small film he directed and starred in called Buffalo 66 which had an impressive cast including Christina Ricci in one of her last meaningful roles before she sold out to Hollywood. Then, with Natasha Lyonne they did the sequel to Freeway. Then, is when it all started to go downhill for him..he did a so called controversial film called Brown Bunny. The selling point to this film it would have a on screen blow job from Chloe Sevigny. Whatever that scene meant for Gallo and crew, it really created this backlash towards him. From his threats and fights with Roger Ebert which made him look like a bully, to just having to resort to smaller and smaller films to keep his name alive. Gallo has always been a expermintation actor which means he will go so far into character that the line truly is blurred. This film is no exception, he does his own stunts and get this he is in real snow in the middle of winter barefoot, runs around barefoot for a long time in some really uncomfortable scenes. In the bonus features, the director talks about how Gallo said he is from Buffalo NY and runs around barefoot in snow all the time. Essential KillingT is basically a survivalist almost non action Rambo sort of film. There is a eerie scene involving a missile that Gallo’s character goes deaf, and he plays it so convincingly and when he tries to hear something you get the noises someone in his condition would get. They really did a good job relaying the feeling.

My problem with this film is not so much the material, it is the pacing and the seen this before feel the film has. While Gallo does his best to sell the situation, by eating real ants in one scene, real tree bark in another, a mother breast feeding her child, is not safe..Gallo drinks her breast milk and then eats a live fish. The flashbacks were so odd and misplaced in this film, like they were trying to make this not only a survivalist film but a art film on top. Which no offense, the two do not mesh and when you add Gallo the mix they really do not mesh. This film at time almost felt like a bad SNL skit. Gallo is a great actor when the script is solid, when he has to improvise and think outside the box, he seems lost and having to depend on someone else’s formula. They emphasize so much on his plight and how dire his situation is,that they forget to make the selling of it more interesting. This film is not a total waste, I mean the killings were not the best and we seen these styles of killing over and over in countless other films, Gallo does not speak a word in this whole film, which I guess they felt they had to do, but to see what Gallo puts himself thru is impressive, which I will give some points to. By now in his almost 30 year career, Vincent Gallo has to know what his stregnths as a actor are, and he had to know this film was not a good showcase for them. The film wanted you to sympathize the character, I ended up feeling sorry for the actor.

3 out of 10