Movie Review: The Killer
The Killer represents a return to form for Michael Fassbender, whose cold gaze will make the hair stand on your forearms and, at times, send shivers down your spine. To go along with a darkly comic narration that is pitch-perfect for David Fincher’s meticulous crime thriller, the prolonged opening sequence sets the tone for the entire film. It is a remarkable character study displaying great patience, and the film excels when watching how the main character reacts when sequences unravel and are not under his control. Par example, the opening is so stoic, cool, calm, and collected. Fincher and screenwriter Andrew Kenneth Walker immerse the viewer in the mindset of a man with unmatched paranoid vigilance.
You begin to feel his obsessive sense of control, extreme orderliness, and methodical nature of his highly planned professionalism, and perhaps most
importantly, psychological rationalization is used as a defence to excel in a world where very few last a long time. That means our Killer has to stick to
his process, quietly rocking out to The Smiths and performing yoga while always making sure not to leave any DNA—oh yes, that pesky DNA. That’s where Fincher and company grab the viewer and refuse to let go. The Killer is not about a successful hitman but about how a true professional handles himself when things don’t go as planned.
You’ll notice Fincher’s famed use of movement, soaking within each frame. Fincher always uses the camera lens to mirror and connect his audience with the character – you can feel that overwhelmingly here. As the film progresses, you’ll notice the painstaking, even arduous, discipline in each step taken to accomplish the job.
The Killer is an adaptation of the French comic book of the same name by Alexis Nolent and Luc Jacamon. The immersive character study starts with Fassbender’s unnamed assassin as he stalks a rich whoever about to enjoy a quiet night of BDSM from, by the looks of it, a highly paid dominatrix. Our hitman has no desire to find out what the old man did or why someone has put a contract on his head. Frankly, he does not care. All he wants is to do his job professionally and get back to his girlfriend, Magdala (Sophie Charlotte).
We will avoid any more details to prevent spoilers, but we shouldn’t mistake The Killer for a documentary. This is based on a comic, and as such, you can highly question its realism. The source materials, in any case, were written pre-Ring doorbell and HD closed-caption television, leading to a
number of gaps in logic most likely attributable to the anachronistic nature of the comic. Fassbender’s character, for some reason, doesn’t have to worry about security footage from the most basic public places to the most secure living quarters in the country.
Then there’s the matter of leaving a couple of characters alive, which doesn’t make sense in the grand scheme of the film. However, that’s beside the point. What you have here is a cold and calculated study not of a profession but of the practice of discipline. Of course, Fincher scratches that itch for something different and ultra-cool, unlike most hitman genre films. Fassbender’s dry inner monologue, the affectionless way he adapts his plan to meet one of his victim’s needs or the icy smoulder of surveilling your target.
The Killer is a return to the genre film for Fincher. If you compare it to the master’s almost biblical filmography of Zodiac, Seven, or Fight Club, you’ll undoubtedly walk away disappointed. But that’s because we are incorrectly holding Fincher to an incredibly high standard he himself has set. The thing is, he has applied his high standard to a source material that has its limitations. To call The Killer, director David Fincher’s new thriller, aloof and cold to the touch is an understatement, despite the presence of near-constant voiceover narration from star Michael Fassbender as a seasoned assassin. And even if that detachment is part of the point, it doesn’t well serve this efficient but strangely disposable effort.