THE KILLER (NETFLIX) (2023)
SYNOPSIS: After a fateful near miss, an assassin battles his employers — and himself — on an international hunt for retribution he insists isn't personal.
From the get go, we see the nameless killer (played by Michael Fassbender) seemingly preparing to kill his target across from the WeWork vacant office space he is hiding in. He spent days staking out his target and in the meantime, he eats McDonalds, practises yoga and listen to the Smiths. When the target finally arrives, the killer misses his mark!
And in the first 30 minutes of this latest David Fincher’s movie, we learn that the director of Seven, Fight Club and Gone Girl has turned in yet another Fincher class movie set piece based on a French graphic novel series.
Unfortunately, the mistake nearly causes the death of his girlfriend as the killer’s handler by the name of Hodges (Charles Parnell) aka The Lawyer decides to teach him a lesson for the failed job in Paris. This of course doesn’t sit well with the killer and he embarks on a journey of killing the people that did him and his girlfriend wrong.
Fincher reunites with his Seven’s screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker to create a mundane journey into the mind of a killer. There’s hardly any dialogue in fact the movie is mostly filled with the killer’s voiceover as he deadpanned about his choice of music and his own set of rules which include “Anticipate don’t improvise” and “Fight only the battle you’re paid to fight”. It’s a revenge tale no doubt but it’s presented in such a straight-forward, simple manner that it differs so much from Fincher’s complex past works.
As a truly professional globe-trotting assassin, the killer is mostly seen in the night, in the shadows trailing his targets and careful not to make any more mistakes. We see him killing Hodges with a nail gun, applies a quick sudden death to his secretary, a brutal battle with a fellow assassin dubbed The Brute in Florida, The Expert (Tilda Swinton) in New York and lastly, the billionaire aka the client who engaged his service via The Lawyer.
In-between every killings and the killer’s intense exchanges with his soon-to-be deceased opponents, we learn zilch about the mysterious killer nor his cold twisted look at the world surrounding him. Perhaps this is intended by both Fincher and Walker. Perhaps there is a sequel planned after the killer decides to resume his business after his vacation in Dominican Republic.
After a long hiatus, Michael Fassbender shines as the cold-blooded killer who is not a fan of empathy. His nonchalant, captivating approach remains a draw throughout while Swinton amuses with a bear and hunter joke in her limited screentime.
Moody, atmospheric and filled with sudden moments of swift violence, The Killer is not going to be one of Fincher’s memorable works. Yet for what it is, it’s still a fine cinematic experience on the small screen.
Review by Linus Tee