TECHNOLOGY

The Killer Movie Review

Movie

Bringing his best movie making skills to Netflix, David Fincher delivers an unrelentingly cold slice of hitman revenge. Reuniting with Andrew Kevin Walker (writer of Seven and Fight Club), the director delivers a laconic antihero whose inner monologue feels as deadpan as Morrissey’s mutterings. While this chilly ode to impersonalization could use more surprise, the film does boast gobsmacking levels of film craft and a brilliant performance from Michael Fassbender.

The Killer (Michael Fassbender)

The Killer is a riveting revenge riot with gobsmacking levels of film craft. David Fincher and Andrew Kevin Walker reunite to deliver businesslike genre cool and some surprisingly powder-dry humor, in the form of an unnamed ruthless contract killer.

This movie is about the process of killing, and a killer’s self-discipline and sense of order, reflected in a parade of logos and products (WeWork, FedEx, Amazon, McDonald’s) that serve as both sight gags and skeleton keys to unlocking a subtext of soulless hyper-contemporaneity. Michael Fassbender’s coolly delivered, dry-as-dust voiceover, which falls somewhere between first-person novelistic narration and the killer’s own internal monologue, is a mesmerizing blend of cold efficiency and self-disciplined paranoia.

The story isn’t exactly fresh, but the filmmakers make it entertaining, and Fassbender’s performance is enough to keep this movie afloat. The Killer may not rank with Fincher’s best work, but it delivers on the promise of a meticulously detailed thriller. A must-see for fans of assassin movies.

The Brute (Sala Baker)

While The Killer lacks the depth of a film like Gone Girl or Se7en, it does deliver a handful of honest, grotty pleasures. Among them is a mano-y-mano fight scene between Fassbender and the muscular Floridian known only as The Brute (New Zealand stuntman Sala Baker).

Throughout, the director’s visual style stands out: lens flares, crystal-clear night shots, an elegant feeling of menace in the air at all times. And while the story is standard revenge-thriller fare, there’s a beauty to watching a man with steel resolve go about his business methodically.

It also helps to have a great actor like Fassbender at the center of it all. He’s a joy to watch, and he’s complemented well by his co-stars, with Tilda Swinton in particular earning some praise in reviews for her performance as The Expert. Digital Spy’s Ian Sandwell called her cameo “a tour-de-force”.

The Expert (Tilda Swinton)

Throughout the film, we get to know The Killer through his multiple interior monologues. We learn his modus operandi, his creed (stick to your plan, anticipate, don’t improvise, trust no one and only fight the battles you’re paid to fight; forbid empathy because weakness is vulnerability).

While the mercenary virtuoso may seem like a cliche in this day and age, Fincher’s restrained visual style complements the character’s cold, calculated demeanor, enabling the gomovies film to transcend its potentially mundane premise. Fincher’s use of a subdued color palette and his discerning eye for composition are on full display, with the resulting imagery striking.

The movie’s highlight is a talky episode that sees The Killer meet Swinton’s Expert at a swanky restaurant. The icy queen exudes such wily confidence and grace under pressure that the audience may overlook some of the movie’s underwhelming action sequences and anticlimactic confrontations. A rare treat for Fincher fans. A slick, stylish revenge thriller that feels both modern and timeless.

The Lawyer (Charles Parnell)

Having dipped into period passion projects and a couple of sly, unsettling satires with his last effort, 2020’s Mank, director David Fincher is back on familiar territory here. He applies his distinctive artistic rigor to familiar blockbuster components, with one particularly well-choreographed fight scene between Michael Fassbender and a muscular Floridian brute standing out.

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But The Killer is more than a dry exercise in a businesslike genre. It’s also a dark joke on how a career of precision can go so terribly wrong – as illustrated by the Killer’s own recited mantra and a brutal full-contact battle with a terrifying henchman.

The Killer is an absorbing and subversively satisfying film that showcases the talents of its two leads. Fassbender is in top form, his dry delivery of the killer’s taunting monologues dripping with snark. And he’s matched by Charles Parnell as his lawyer/boss/mentor, as well as Tilda Swinton as the expert who hires The Killer.

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