Posted on Monday, July 5th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
After that last big interview we posted with Vincent Gallo, a lot of readers probably think he’s a total jerk, if not quite a cultural terrorist. That being the cast, perhaps his role in Essential Killing is playing directly to the audience who loves to hate him: Gallo plays Mohammed, a Taliban soldier who is captured by Americans in Afghanistan and transferred to Europe for interrogation. But he escapes captivity and has to navigate an unfamiliar land. Check out the trailer below.
So this should be a challenge for any actor: playing an escaped member of the Taliban who is not only on the run but, if the trailer is any indication, also rather brutal. Is that a stretch for Gallo? No. I’m not playing devil’s advocate at all when I say he’s one of the more interesting screen presences working in the last couple decades; there’s something so watchable about Gallo. (I watch Trouble Every Day probably twice a year — granted, the Tindersticks music doesn’t hurt.) I don’t care about his offscreen shenanigans; the camera loves him.
All that said, and my enthusiasm for Gallo’s onscreen presence notwithstanding, the footage in this Essential Killing trailer isn’t terribly compelling. Take away the music, which really drives the pulse of this edit, and there’s not much there.
What I see when I watch this footage a couple times is something like one of the offshoot westerns produced in the ’60s and ’70s — think The Great Silence, only with a lot less tension and a dearth of supporting actors to prop up the action. I hope I’m wrong, because we don’t see many movies like this of late. But I’ll need to see a lot more footage to be convinced that this is more than a thin idea bolstered by champion stunt casting.
If you need the official synopsis for Jerzy Skolimowski‘s film, here it is:
Captured by the US military in Afghanistan, Mohammed is transported to a secret military black site somewhere in the Eastern Europe. When the armed convoy he is riding in plummets off a steep hill, Mohammed finds himself suddenly free and on the run behind the enemy lines, among a hostile, snow blanketed forest. Relentlessly pursued by an army that officially does not exist, Mohammed must constantly confront the need to kill in order to survive.