Author: Bob Etier
Relentlessly grim, Essential Killing tells the story of a Taliban fighter who is captured by US forces in Afghanistan. After he is captured, he is transported by military vehicle to a “secret detention center in Europe” but there is an accident and he escapes. The remainder of the film chronicles his journey across a snow-covered, unfamiliar landscape (Poland). Vincent Gallo portrays Taliban fighter Mohammed.
There is little dialogue in writer/director Jerzy Skolimowski’s screenplay, and there are no subtitles. When the fighter encounters other people in this desolate landscape, we understand them as well as he does. Essential Killing pits man against man and man against nature, as Mohammad attempts to escape the military, other people who share this unforgiving wilderness (logger, fisherman, hunter), a pack of wild dogs, and the elements. In order to survive, he kills. In one disturbing scene, he pushes a nursing infant away from its mother so that he can partake of her milk.
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