User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 68 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 61 out of 68
  2. Negative: 4 out of 68

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  1. Sep 11, 2013
    0
    Going into The Act of Killing I expected to be shocked and appalled and I was but not for the reasons I imagined. A fearless look at a group of people alive today and their inner most thoughts about a dark time in Indonesian history. The kicker? These people are monsters and director Joshua Oppenheimer is unfortunately giving them a voice. The film follows Oppenheimer as he interviews a group of Indonesian death squad executioners responsible for the mass communist genocide that took place in 1965, a horrific period in Indonesian history carried out by these so called subjects. The film is crass and lacks any kind of remorse as it ridicules the children of those who died, shows the wonderful lives that these killers now have and glorifies an action that took over a million lives. The Act of Killing is a disgraceful picture designed to disturb as to inspire action. However Oppenheimer must know the futility of his struggle and the inevitability of his failure so his creation of this rubbish only serves to entertain his interviewees. Not only does the film give them a pulpit to shout out their propaganda but it also treats it all as alright, a necessary evil. The Act of Killing breaks the cardinal rule of documentary film making, it doesn't have anything in it worth telling the rest of the world, it doesn't have a purpose beyond mocking the dead. Expand
  2. Feb 17, 2014
    10
    Great documentary. Shows the twisted state of morality in the mind of all the killers like never before in the cinema. The question how some human can do it has been answered by an intelligent concept.
  3. Jan 16, 2014
    4
    The Act of Killing has some of the most horrific things humans can do to each other but in the end what was the point? All these men are still walking free and no punishments have be taken against them. The movie just revisits the past without dealing with the now. As a movie, its too long and has an ending that is unintentionally funny.
  4. Sep 8, 2013
    10
    This movie is a great documentary. Disturbing and surreal in equal measure. Watching these psychopaths brag about their atrocities makes me upset, But this movie is about a lot more than the genocide that occurred in 1965. It shows how America has contributed to these murders through culture and financial aid. Exposed as well is the amount of corruption and political oppression around every turn in Indonesia.
    To the person who gave a negative review: a documentary is supposed show the truth. I am surmising the best way for the filmmaker to have these murderers open up like this was to to make them believe that they were being celebrated in a way. Since this documentary gave you such a strong reaction proves that it is excellent. If you can't look at the truth you shouldn't watch a movie like this and give it a 2. I thought your observations were spot on but I guess you can't handle the truth as Jack Nicholson once said.
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  5. Jul 29, 2013
    2
    Ground breaking documentary technique vies with unpleasant content and despicable characters to produce a reaction in me that, whilst acknowledging the film makers skill, has me repulsed by the film itself. That these people, guilty of such atrocious crimes, are still walking around freely, without conscience and living in relative opulence is absolutely abhorrent to me. I understand that the point of documentary film making is to uncover truths and depict life as it is. I also recognise that my strong reaction against the film (or at least the content) is precisely the point, but the casual re-enactments of the crimes seems wrong to me. One character actually states that he would like to be famous. Well, whether for the right or wrong reasons this film certainly gives him his time in the sun.

    Disregard for life is also demonstrated with animals when the lead protagonist shows the crew around his stuffed collection proclaiming nonchalantly that he had personally killed the black Rhino, whilst dismissively pointing out that the species was near extinction.

    Content aside, the print under review is the director's cut which at 159 minutes is excessively long and when not shocking has extremely boring interludes, with some edits appearing just chaotic. The last 20 minutes or so when Anwar Cong, one of the killers, shows remorse by crying and later gagging (as if to vomit) is just an insult to all his victims as well as being extremely distasteful.

    I am aware of all the superlatives that the documentary has been receiving, both written and oral, and it must be said that the audience that I viewed the film with stayed in their seats well into the end credits and left very subdued, but I did approach the film reluctantly and with caution.

    The use of John Barry's beautiful song 'Born Free' emphasises the ugliness of everything else going on, I don't dispute that it is powerful film making, but I also can't dispute that I hated it!
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  6. Jul 29, 2013
    10
    Terrific and mind bending experience,the experiences of this poor man and the banality of evil, that is the reason for make it a masterpiece and one of the best documentaries of all time
  7. Sep 11, 2013
    7
    During the 60s death squads murdered more than a million Communists in the Indonesian purge. This doc spends time with several of the prominent killers. In conversation and chilling staged reenactments, they unapologetically recount their methods. The pacing lags when there's too much talk, but the "acts" and the final scenes are dramatically powerful. (Subtitles)
  8. Feb 15, 2014
    7
    The documentary was told from the perspective of ex Indonesian gangster Anwar Congo. His atrocity during 1965 military ruling where he was only a selling black market movie tickets before becoming a notorious gangster. This movie follows when he and his ex partners begin to remember his past incidents.

    I was uncomfortable throughout. I felt it was disturbing in many parts. Actually,
    they won't show any cruel stuffs in raw form than just an interview. Now and then they perform to explain us the real act and it becomes 'The Act of Killing'.

    This movie largely received critical acclaim. But my stance is just opposite to it because I hated almost all the character from the movie for what they did. Still a good documentary about what most of us was unaware of the real story. Because of this movie we come to know the dark secrets.

    These people tell their hidden secrets and feel what they did was an unforgivable sin. They came from lower class and they did it for good living. Suppose if they did not, someone would have done it. Many are backed off from the interview in the middle of the documentary, but Anwar Congo stayed till the end to give his side story.

    The director should be appreciated for his effort. He took nearly a decade to make this film. It is obvious that in the end he was confused over how to wrap it, but somehow he managed to do so. The most favourite to win Oscar. I am not in favour of this movie to win because it was told from cruel people and their dirty works. If you hear the same story from the innocent victim's perspective that would melt you emotionally.
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  9. Jul 19, 2013
    10
    Have I sinned?
    Why man we critics and non-critics enjoyed watching your re-created killings!!! You can feel from all the praises your killing movie received in all film festivals.
    Our only question is When will you do the SEQUEL????
  10. Apr 8, 2014
    9
    The opening sequence (which I won't spoil) begs the same question that the entire film does: Are you serious? Is this real? Apparently the answer is yes.

    The film revolves around Indonesia; which despite being an enormous country is pretty much a mystery to most of us. The paramilitary gangsterism described is brutal. The specific individuals being focused on are essentially a group of
    thugs who try to make a movie about their own rise to power, while being followed around by the documentarians. Their apparent lack of insight into their own situation is mind-boggling, and yet they sometimes have a very informative perspective on the rest of the world.

    Besides the disturbing nature of the politically motivated genocide that its subjects participate in, the surprising thing about this documentary is that it subverts Hollywood-driven expectations. These are the bad guys, and they not only admit but flaunt their own atrocities, but they essentially have one. Decades after rising to power they remain figures of influence, and there is nothing to suggest that any of them will ever be held accountable. Their own journey towards (perhaps?) understanding what they did as they make their propaganda film is the only justice they'll likely ever see. This documentary offers a surprisingly intimate picture into that journey.
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Metascore
89

Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Sep 13, 2013
    100
    The Act of Killing is exemplary as a history lesson, a character study and a powerful argument for confronting the past.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 16, 2013
    60
    It's also a touch tedious at times, as it's not always clear where Oppenheimer is going.
  3. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Aug 15, 2013
    100
    In The Act of Killing, director Joshua Oppenheimer pulls off the impossible: He confronts great, incomprehensible evil and puts a human face on it.