After a fateful near-miss an assassin battles his employers, and himself, on an international manhunt he insists isn’t personal.
David Fincher films are full of criminals, homicidal maniacs, serial killers and other assorted murders and murderers. Even his last film, the glorious Mank, featured Hollywood producers who ruthlessly killed dreams and souls. So, I was expecting, his latest, The Killer to be his ultimate summation of his homocidal mindset, Fincher at his deadly best. The Killer lived down to my expectations- and then some. It bored me to death.
The movie is based on a French graphic novel of the same title written by the pseudonymous Matz (real name, Alexis Nolent) and illustrated by Luc Jacamon. Their killer was an ordinary looking man who can pass as a cypher and function as a nihilistic metaphor- a loner preoccupied with self-loathing and perpetuating his own insipid existence. The graphic novel was a meditation on existential dullness, killing time by murdering it.
The nameless hitman played by Michael Fassbender spends the entire runtime trying to clean up the mess he made when his target doesn’t die. This killer is reactive rather than passive. I think Fincher intends him as the anti James Bond, a suave killer with an illegal license to kill. As such, it’s a counter reaction to the themes of the Matz-Jacamon comic. Fincher’s visuals are rather muted, get darker and darker, until they’re almost swallowed in the blackness, and the genre cliches. Matz-Jacamon reveled in their non-character being swallowed by the rich colors and exploding angled all around him. The Fincher version is a visual and thematic misinterpretation of its source inspiration.
Fincher even bleeds the life out of the main character. His only humorous quirks are the numerous sitcom aliases he uses for various credit cards and plane tickets. The killer rambles on and on, first in voice over and than onscreen, almost as if he is teaching the most boring hitman college course. Forbid empathy and trust no one are the oft chanted mantras.
Fassbender’s charisma is tamped down, robbing the audience of the pleasure of watching a professional at work, even evil suavely and nicely acted. He has all the accoutrements of nefarious. villains- a hot lover, a luxury beachfront house, a kitted out storage unit with the better tools of his trade but zero personality, moral code, nothing that complicates him. He exists for Fincher to kill time in the most excruciating dull way possible. If that was the theme all along, it can’t be said that Fincher hasn’t devoted himself fully to it.
The Killer gets a 3.0 out of 5 or a B. It’s streaming on Netflix.
- Alexis “Matz” Nolent
- Luc Jacamon
- William Doyle
- Peter Mavromates
- Michael Fassbender
- Arliss Howard
- Charles Parnell
- Kerry O’Malley
- September 3, 2023(Venice)
- October 27, 2023(United States)
- November 10, 2023(Netflix)