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  Essential Killing Doing A Runner
Year: 2010
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Stars: Vincent Gallo, Emmanuelle Seigner, Zach Cohen, Iftach Ophir, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Stig Frode Henriksen, David L. Price, Tracy Spencer Shipp, Mark Gasperich, Phillip Goss, Klaudia Kaca, Dariusz Juzyszyn, Raymond Josey, Robert Mazurkiewicz
Genre: Thriller, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: In Afghanistan a terrified Taliban terrorist (Vincent Gallo) lies in wait for a group of American contractors and soldiers to approach, having wrested a rocket launcher from the grasp of one of is fellow combatants, now dead from a gunshot wound to the head. As he hides in a cave, he watches the men settle and takes aim, so as they hear him and are alerted he knows the time is now and pulls the trigger, blowing them to smithereens. However, on making his escape a helicopter pilot has noticed him, and he is brought down by a missile...

But he doesn't die, he's just concussed, and taken to an internment camp where he is questioned and tortured with waterboarding, but refuses to say a word - either that or he doesn't really know what is going on as the explosion has left him deaf for the moment, but as you'll find out, this chap is not the most loquacious of characters. Indeed, aside from the odd grunt or "Argh!" Gallo never said a word throughout the whole of the movie, which was handy for him as it allowed him to play a member of the Taliban without having to learn their language. He made up for that in the way that only Gallo could, by applying what could best be described as method acting to the role.

Not that he actually blew people up in preparation, or onscreen for that matter, but he made it clear he was the sort of actor who would quite willingly eat a raw fish for the cameras if the part demanded it. Which is what he did, among other bizarre behaviour, that made this stand out as something a little different from your average survivalist yarn, a seasoned genre which saw actors pushing themselves to the limits of their endurance, or pretending to at any rate. You'll have guessed that the unnamed protagonist does not spend the whole story incarcerated in that Afghan camp, as he does get transported after a while to Northern Europe, ostensibly for a prison there.

The survivalist angle enters into this when the truck he and his fellow prisoners are being taken in crashes and rolls down an embankment, freeing the fighter and allowing him to commence a trial that sees him relying on the death of others to prolong his own life, both animal and human. Evidence of Gallo's commitment to this was right here as in nighttime, below freezing temperatures he ran chained at the hands and feet while wearing nothing but an overall - yes, nothing on those feet in that snow, not even socks. If you find yourself wincing on the star's behalf, then that's perfectly reasonable, but what was not quite as acceptable to many was that we were asked to see the fighter as the hero of the piece though he stabs dogs and chainsaws a logger in his struggle.

Director Jerzy Skolimowski eschewed any political themes, claiming to have no interest in anything but the plight of this man and his battle for life, but nevertheless making him a Taliban exponent, though being largely silent we never hear his philosophy, edged towards glamourising the extremist Gallo was playing. How dedicated these men are, you could observe, how noble and admirable they are in forcing themselves to stand up for their beliefs as foreigners attempt to force them to change their way of life on pain of death, was one way of looking at it. To be fair, if Gallo had been playing an American soldier escaping from the enemy the director would have approached this in precisely the same way, but the political undercurrent, however pushed down, was undeniable. Still, if you wanted an adventure yarn and allowed for your conscience being troubled, the sight of Gallo forcing a woman to breastfeed him was not something you saw every day. Music by Pawel Mykietyn.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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