Starring: Michael Fassbender, Charles Parnell, Tilda Swinton, Sala Baker, and Arliss Howard
Director: David Fincher
With only his second movie since 2014’s Gone Girl, director David Fincher returns to his dark thriller roots with the noirish The Killer, a lean assassin flick that pairs the slick planning sequences usually seen in heist movies with the deliberate tone and methodical pacing of Mindhunter. A tightly written revenge story, it features a dryly funny Michael Fassbender as he delivers Dexter-style voiceovers about how to be a successful assassin. Even if it is relatively straightforward, especially by Fincher standards, it’s no less compelling than some of Fincher’s best works, landing in the top tier of Netflix Originals.
The Killer may not be director David Fincher's top feature, but it's certainly in the upper half of his filmography. The director has crafted a tense and surprisingly humourous sensory experience that feel less like a film and more like a tense situation you've become immersed in. Michael Fassbender provides the nameless assassin with the exact cold and calculated persona the film requires, including an insightful inner monologue (think Dexter), and though it may not be the most action-packed film you see this year, it boasts one of the most hard-hitting fight sequences you're bound to come across. Overall, another winner for Fincher.
When it comes to the story, The Killer is not without its flaws, but it's a badass David Fincher flick, nonetheless. The majority of its runtime is a meticulous procedural process that the film insists we go on, and while that may sound grating, it's endlessly fascinating and surprisingly funny. Fincher's modernized style takes us through the invigorating stoic eyes of Michael Fassbender, and every detail that gets picked up on is a blast. The editing and score help make this film a joy ride too, even if the ending is a bit rushed. All in all, The Killer is a well-planned and executed thriller.
There is a line in The Killer that basically amounts to “if you can’t deal with boredom, this life isn’t for you.” Well, that same idea proves that this movie isn’t for me. While director David Fincher and star Michael Fassbender (the titular killer) take an interestingly introspective look at this kind of work, it feels too much like a stakeout, with a lot of waiting around for something interesting to happen. When something does happen, you take notice (fight of the year candidate included), but ultimately, this look at the mundane life of an assassin is not what I was hoping for.
The Killer is one of director David Fincher’s most challenging projects to date. You can appreciate the movie as a meditation on labour, career, and perfectionism, but it’s certainly not the white-knuckle thriller some were expecting. The film is as cold, calculated, and patient as its protagonist, and this restrained approach might alienate a lot of Fincher’s die-hard fans. The Killer is a thought-provoking experience that certainly held my attention, but rarely had me on the edge of my seat. It’s definitely worth a watch, but it’s a shame that its story wasn’t as compelling as its thematic undertakings.
The Killer is a cold, calculated, yet forgettable assassin thriller. It's undoubtedly stylish, modern, well-crafted, and meticulously shot, but it's also mundane and slightly tedious, with a lot of waiting around for something to happen, accompanied by an exhaustive voice-over. My issue is not that the film lacked sentiment, but that it has an emotional detachment that goes beyond the sociopathy of the protagonist and borders on uninteresting. However, Michael Fassbender gives a fantastic performance as the remorseless hitman, while Tilda Swinton lights up her brief screen time with wit and charm.
The Killer is a mashup of two great movies, John Wick and Drive, but is so much less successful than either or their sum. I don’t like criticizing the director (David Fincher) of some of my favorite works, but my own inner narrative compels me to do so. Character development is lacking, lighting is particularly terrible, and stylistics trump storytelling. I love the calculated-killer-capitalist whose emotion flickers in the light of personal tragedy, but the innovative approach to the assassin’s more mundane tasks is not enough to distract from the film’s failings. I didn’t hate it, but I probably won’t re-watch.
While extremely stylish, The Killer is a cold and simplistic revenge story. This gritty crime thriller allows director David Fincher to prove once again that he is an attentive craftsman; however, I must admit that this time around, I felt that he was more reserved behind the camera and played it safe with the story. I was intrigued by the introspective narrative approach of our lead, played by the underrated Michael Fassbender, but the film lacked heart. It seemed as if Fincher cared more about the technical aspects of the movie than the actual story.
This film was reviewed by Nick, Adriano, and Quentin as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2023 Venice International Film Festival, respectively.