Box art for Essential Killing

Essential Killing

  • Rated NR

independent, special interest


Captured by the US military in Afghanistan, Mohammed (Vincent Gallo) is transported to a secret detention center somewhere in Europe. When an accident allows him to escape, Mohammed must confront the necessity to kill in order to survive.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    85%
  • Audience Score
    46%

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    85%
    reviews counted: 5
    see all Essential Killing reviews
  • Audience

    46%

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: 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, Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fresh: The movie deftly shifts from its initial chase thriller mode to a grueling, offbeat tale of human survival.

- Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times, Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fresh: View it as an existential thriller illustrating how violence begets violence.

- Peter Howell, Toronto Star, Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Even if not original and proving to be a wearing experience, this visceral film deserves credit for being almost without dialogue - and Gallo does a good job as a desperate man struggling for survival in an inhospitable place, while the locations highlight well his isolation.

- blacksheepboy, Friday, June 29, 2012

2 stars

A rare film that mixes action, beauty and terror into one survival film. Jerzy Skolimowski's strenght lies in his ability to use sound and image in a offbeat way. This could have been a straight action film, but in Skolimowski's hands it turns into something much more deeper and surreal than that. While this is by far one of the most interesting survival stories in a long time it still is awfully flawed. It has serious problems with it's logic and those flashback sequences are completely pointless and belong to another film. Vincent Gallo tries his best in a physical role without any words, but his character feels cold and distant also. Still it is a technically outstanding work and a interesting take on a humans ability to survive in wilderness.

- emilkakko, Sunday, September 4, 2011

2 stars

Sometimes visually striking, virtually dialogue free piece with some memorable moments and a committed, if over-egged, performance from Vincent Gallo. The symbolism becomes wearying however, and Jerry Skolimowski doesn't have the even hand of Gus Van Sant's "Gerry" or Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line", which explore similar themes.

- danieljparsons, Saturday, August 11, 2012