The film, which apparently was the only film to ever win multiple awards at the Venice Film Festival, keeps an admirably contained narrative focus following a man (Vincent Gallo), whom the audience assumes is some sort of extremist, who kills prospectors in a cave in the Middle East and is taken to an American prison (meant to evoke Guantanamo Bay and Abu Graib, what with its dogs, rampant insulting of "foreigners," and, as has been noted, water-boarding). When he's being carried between jails, pigs in the road cause for a pileup and for the man's truck to swerve off of the road. He gets away, hiding before killing the driver of one of the trucks and moving out from there. Which is not too far, as he's forced to abandon the truck and run without heed into (as Skolimowski himself noted) a wintry climate unknown to him.
The rest of the plot can be easily summarized, so I will refrain from doing so. I will address (and agree with) the speculation, though, that there are appalling scenes in the film. There is one in particular, that is maybe made even more abhorrent in how it is entirely self-contained. I understand it on some level, but it's still pretty despicable. This is when the character, when he sees a woman with her baby lying on the ice after falling off of a bike, holds them at gunpoint while he sucks breast-milk from her bosom. He then runs away, leaving her brutalized and unconscious on the ground, as authorities are heard in the distance. Sure, he does have moral qualms about this afterwards, but I don't think that's enough to account for it.
Skolimowski, who considers this his greatest work, got into an amusing back-and-forth with pissed-off audience members at the screening I went to. They accused him of both "glorifying the Taliban" and using unwarranted symbolism. He denied both, adamant in saying that the main character is a "civilian" and that the end shot (treated in a way I hated) was done because it was "a nice image." I found these responses incredibly coy and disrespecting of the audience's intelligence. To name the main character Mohammed shouldn't create an immediate connection to fanaticism, but I think Skolimowski was asking for it. I personally found a woman's thoughts that the film was about "mistaken ideology" a la "Four Lions" and, to use her example, "Das Boot," the most valid approach.
It must be said that Gallo is excellent or close to it in the lead, though, dropping every shred of his swagger, not talking at all throughout the whole film. His taking of Best Actor at Venice was merited. The film's Special Jury Prize win, though, I'm not quite sure about. C