3 November 2010 | ExploringFilm
Vincent Gallo stars as a confused, lonesome Taliban fighter in this survival film, perhaps a spiritual successor to the old Nils Gaup film 'The Pathfinder' (not the remake). An unnamed fighter is captured by Americans, extradited to a base inn a Russian-speaking country, then escapes, and spends the most part of the film chased by Americans in helicopters or patrols of dogs. It's refreshing to see Americans portrayed through the eyes of a Taliban fighter; with their superior technology and almost infantile attitudes they seem quite like aliens. The fighter is ever troubled by the killing he has to do in order to survive, as he struggles through a bleak wintery landscape (shot in Norway and Poland), searching for food, clothes and shelter. This is a film about the human condition rather than a political one, in some respects it has a classic chase plot but with minimal dialogue a dream-like feel. The strangeness of it all made me intrigued; here is a Taliban fighter chased by rather alien Americans surrounded by hapless Russian-speaking farmers or foresters. This slightly unreal quality is the film's strength, also parallel to the man's sand-coloured 'dream-visions' of his homeland and imagery of a woman (whose face we never see) and images of his family.
The cinematography and use of colour contrasted against the pale winter landscape is stunning. The plot isn't entirely believable, and takes you through some pretty unlikely twists and turns, but nevertheless this is more existentialist than realist, and Vincent Gallo pulls off the non-speaking part with a humbling and convincing performance.