The Act of Killing Movie Review

The Act of Killing The Act of Killing

Starring: Anwar Congo, Haji Anif, Syamsul Arifin, Sakhyan Asmara,

Directed by: Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn & Anonymous

Rated: NR

Run Time: 115 mins

Genre: Documentary/ Crime/ History

Opens August 2nd


By Lisa Minzey of The Reel

Hey Phoenix Film Fans, opening this week is the award winning documentary “The Act of KillIng”. If you haven’t heard of this film yet, this is one that needs a closer examination as the content is not an easy pill to swallow.


Taking an in-depth look at the leaders of Indonesia, specifically a group that call themselves the movie theater mafia, a right -wing paramilitary group that committed crimes against humanity. In 1965, the Indonesian government was overthrown by the military. Anwar Congo and his friends, back then, were small time gangster leading death squad leaders targeting anyone they considered being communist, ethnic Chinese or any type of intellectual. Assisting the military, they killed millions of people in less than a year. These so called “Movie Theater Mafia” men, grew so powerful, they became the founding fathers of a right -wing paramilitary group that grew out of their death squads.


From their love of cinema, to help explain and further justify their actions, this documentary recounts the barbaric and sadistic acts of these men in reenactments of their crimes done in a theatrical style. Out of their love for cinema and being fans of some of the Golden Age Hollywood actors, Congo and his men would model themselves after the gangster roles in crime films to bring a sense of authenticity and be in the mindset that they were the gangsters on film stepping off the silver screen and into the streets to do the dirty work. Although they try to justify their actions as a social justice, do any of them feel and remorse for their actions or do they live in such a fantasy world that the end justifies the means?

Letting the viewer be a fly on the wall, Director Joshua Oppenheimer takes the viewer on these mind-boggling retellings of horrific killings, giving insight to the inner thoughts and workings to the cultural differences in Indonesia and the rule of the Pancasila Youth. It’s a brash and unapologetic way of storytelling, dishing the truth with little signs of regret. The raw emotions of fear and anger of the victims, with little or no regrets from the “mafia” leaders themselves is heartbreaking and chilling. They way that Anwar Congo and his men try to justify and spin their actions through propaganda of film makes you wonder if this is what life would be like if the Nazis were still in power today. A powerful and emotionally haunting film, this is one not to be missed. Check out “The Act of Killing” when it opens at Harkins Camelview 5 starting Friday August 2, 2013.