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.
Captured by the US military in Afghanistan, Mohammed (Gallo) is transported to a secret detention centre in Europe. When the vehicle he is riding in crashes, he finds himself suddenly free and on the run in a snow-blanketed forest, a world away from the desert home he knew. Relentlessly pursued by an army that does not officially exist, Mohammed must confront the necessity to kill in order to survive.
The award winning Vincent Gallo (Brown Bunny, Buffalo 66, Trouble Every Day) stars as the subject of the chase, producing a daring, enigmatic, entirely wordless performance which won him the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival 2010 where the film was also awarded the Special Jury prize. Skolimowski and cinematographer Adam Sikora harness the stunning landscapes of the mountain forests of Poland and Norway to create a beautiful, if disquieting, cinematic vision. ESSENTIAL KILLING marks a reunion between Jerzy Skolimowski and acclaimed producer Jeremy Thomas who previously worked together on the Cannes Grand Prix du Jury winner The Shout (1978).