The Killer

The Killer

Film Netflix
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8

Great

Michael Fassbender is The Killer in David Fincher's crime drama about an assassin who slowly descends into madness while on an international manhunt.

“Stick to your plan. Anticipate, don't improvise. Trust no one. Never yield an advantage. Fight only the battle you're paid to fight.”

This mantra is repeatedly muttered in voice over by the titular contract killer of David Fincher’s latest thriller, although usually when acting contrary to it.

Michael Fassbender (The Light Between Oceans) stars as The Killer, a contracted hitman who has reached the height of his profession by acknowledging the boring but methodical approach needed to be effective.


Quick but vigorous cleaning, disposal of all elements in a wide radius, and pulse monitoring have made him highly sought after.

Yet this is of little comfort when one hit goes all wrong and the blowback is brutal, but not on him.

What Is The Killer About?

Fincher is on solid footing with The Killer. Adapted from the French comic book of the same name (by Matz and Luc Jacamon), The Killer is a methodical film broken into 6 chapters.

Within each segment, be it ‘Paris & The Target’, ‘New Orleans & The Lawyer’, or ‘’Florida & The Brute’, the Killer’s observations and planning are front and centre, even as they inevitably go wrong in some way.

A comparison to Fincher’s notoriously meticulous filmmaking isn’t a hard one to make.

The result is like watching a well oiled machine predictably and regularly break a spring, right on cue.

As he pursues uncharacteristic revenge, there is an organisational pleasure to be had in Fassbender’s build up of observation, preparation, and execution – even as the latter is not as planned.

His actions may not be as precise as his constant narration, but by a combination of the two this thriller plays out like a man unable to think of any other way to be.

Fincher’s trademark slick framing, blocking, and transitions are all delivered as beautifully as ever.

In a movie with a protagonist who barely speaks to anyone and spends most of his time either on the move or staking out, Fincher ensures that what we are seeing is visually stimulating.

After a foray into period specific music in Mank, frequent soundtrack composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross deliver another solid tension building synth based score that ratchets up the pressure even when little is happening in the moment.

The Killer Official Trailer

Is The Killer Worth Watching?

But after all the prep comes the execution. These range from short sharp moments of pragmatic lethality, to miscalculated timings, to an outright desperation brawl in one case.

Such steam pressure valves are released at the apex of most chapters and prevent the incessant build up from simply buckling the movie.

This heralds few surprises, but watching the machine at work is no less compelling as a result.

The cast mostly – by design – drop in and then definitely drop out, each providing a different counterpoint to Fassbender’s unwavering focus.

Whereas his character extolls the virtues of blending in – to the point of nondescript motels and cheap impersonal food – others grasp their life.

A short but masterful performance from Tilda Swinton contrasts perfectly; as a well known regular at a fancy New York restaurant, she is very much plugged in to her surroundings where Fassbender is outside of it.

Within the mechanics of the typical revenger story framework, Fassbender’s motivations make sense, despite it not being deemed necessary to actually show us.

The instigating result occurs off camera, and although Fassbender excels at clamping his jaw and maintaining broiling anger behind self control, his character exudes no personality – no cracks from under which something more can seep out. Even John Wick got mad.

The end result is a portrait of an unknowable figure. Indeed, his employer (Charles Parnell) points out that Fassbender’s character has more money than he knows how to spend.

What have been his motivations thus far? We are guided expertly through the workings of a master, without ever engaging emotionally with why we are here at all.

All in all then, an inarguably David Fincher movie.

Words by Mike Record

Good

  • Slick And Smart
  • Fantastic Score
  • Pleasure In The Methodical
  • Cinematically Engaging

Bad

  • No Hint Of Personality In Protagonist
  • Predictable Structure
  • Slightly Pat Ending
8

Great

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