October 25th, 2023
MOVIE: THE KILLER
STARRING: MICHAEL FASSBENDER, TILDA SWINTON, CHARLES PARNELL, ARLISS HOWARD
DIRECTED BY: DAVID FINCHER
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The Killer begins with the main character setting up his shot. David Fincher’s newest film is about an assassin but I’m pretty sure it is about being a director. It could be Fincher himself or it could be applied to any filmmaker. The director sets up their camera. Takes their time, makes sure everything is in frame, and discusses with his cast and crew exactly what they will do in a scene. Both professions take precision to be good at what they do, one profession leaves someone dead, the other is the pouring of one’s soul, with the painstaking hours, the neurotic tendencies, and making sure everything is right because if one thing is off, you miss. It is that attention to detail that makes The Killer a precise and meticulous thriller, displaying the various reasons why David Fincher does not miss.
Our main character is just known as The Killer (Michael Fassbender). Through voiceover, he tells us about his profession. He “doesn’t miss,” he tells us. He sits on the top floor of a business building. An abandoned WeWork unit is filled with paint supplies, buckets of paint, and a chair for our antihero to sit on. Across the way is his target. The top penthouse suite of a hotel. He waits. Checks his heart monitor. Does Yoga. Listen to The Smiths. Take a nap. And eventually, his target arrives. The curtains are open as a dominatrix walks into the room, in the process of servicing the target, and at the minute when the trigger is pulled, The Killer misses. Now what? What follows is the process of recovery as the people who hired him don’t take this lightly. He missed and now he must pay for his mistakes. But The Killer won’t just take it. He’s too serious for that.
For many The Killer will move too slow or have not enough going on at once to keep you thrilled. It is the fine details and the languid approach that makes it so good. Although I even feel it is a much smaller scale film for Fincher, who follows up his highly detailed work in Mank with a more condensed production, it’s this approach that makes you love it. We follow The Killer’s every move, as he goes from country to country in hopes of escaping those who pursue him. He’s equipped with various passports using classic TV character names (a gag that I never got tired of) and when he discovers those he has kept close to him have been harmed, all the niceties go out the window.
This is also Fincher back into his wheelhouse of tight and terrifying dramas. It’s in line closer to works such as Panic Room, The Game, or Zodiac, while keeping the dark humor of Gone Girl at the center. Fassbender is cold and calculated. An easy character to step into as he often resembles his android work as David in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. That’s not to say that both Fincher and Fassbender don’t turn it up, as midway through there is a fight sequence that hits like a ton of bricks to the face. It’s bloody, relentless, and sweat-inducing. You pair that with Erik Messerschmidt’s dark-lit, noir-style cinematography, and you can see Fincher channeling a cool “Steve McQueen in the 70s” approach.
It’s hard to find the flaws in The Killer. The director who is notoriously known for having his actors do 100-150 takes isn’t afraid to point the message back at himself. He takes his time. He cares about the positioning of his weapon and delivering a blow that makes the audience see that he knows what he’s doing. This isn’t the stuffy Fincher. This is the Fincher of old and he still knows how to pull the trigger. The Killer is crazy cool.
THE KILLER IS NOW PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS AND WILL BE ON NETFLIX FRIDAY NOVEMBER 10TH, 2023
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady