BY JACK RANSOM NOVEMBER 13, 2023
David Fincher returns after 3 years with The Killer.
Having not read the graphic novel of which this is based on and only watching the first teaser, I knew very little about this going in (I wanted to keep details to an absolute minimum), because let’s be honest: David Fincher directing a stylish neo-noir hitman thriller really is enough of a selling point of its own. Though Mank was divisive and too self-indulgent for some, I did enjoy it… that being said, God it is great to see Fincher returning to what he universally does best with The Killer.
After a fateful near-miss, an assassin (Michael Fassbender) battles his employers, and himself, on an international manhunt he insists isn't personal.
An incredibly simplistic narrative that you will no doubt be familiar with allows for lashings of style, precision and execution to convey the mindset of the titular character. The feature is divided into 5 acts and an epilogue, allowing for a routinely coasting and always engrossing structure and tapping into its comicbook-esque/pulp stylings. Many have commented on how this is Fincher intentionally making "the most Fincher" flick possible with this outing and it certainly is a plausible claim: a driven, obsessive protagonist, cynical yet prominent product placement and every single stylistic, directional beat he is known for.
There is a sickly, slick and grimy sheen to the proceedings that very much echoes both Fight Club and Zodiac especially. The cinematography is glossy, gritty and grounded and despite its frequently plain locales, there is a pristine sheen to it throughout. Thankfully (despite Netflix putting up the cash) it doesn’t look like a TV advert such as The Gray Man and Red Notice. The editing is unbelievably sharp here (the entire prep sequence before the assassination attempt *chef’s kiss*), ice cold scene transitions and a viscerally hyper violent brawl that allows Fincher to flex his action muscles. Lastly, The Smiths soundtrack is classy and fittingly suave.
Fassbender hasn’t had the best run prior to this (Assassin’s Creed, The Snowman, Alien: Covenant and Dark Phoenix), after a four year hiatus he returns and delivers an ice cold, piercing, lean and captivatingly cool presence as ‘The Killer’, is composed narration, flickers of emotion and cutthroat dedication to his craft adds layers to what admittedly is an incredibly tough character to crack emotionally.
The Killer is a laser focused, slick, brutal, kick ass throwback thriller from Fincher. A career re-kickstart from Fassbender, a banger of a soundtrack, editing that is just candy for a film fan’s eyes and a tone that relishes its directors previous peak material.