MOVIES: The Killer – Review


David Fincher is back. After the underwhelming Mank he returns with a nod to Jean Pierre Melville’s Le Samourai, with Michael Fassbender playing a silent, methodical hired gun who is forced to deal with the repercussions when a targeted hit goes wrong in Paris – the film making no attempt to hide its Melville influences when the guns go off; but with the addition of The Smiths – good enough to overlook the use of Morrisey for the always incredible Johnny Marr, and a brilliant blend of diegetic and non-diegetic sound aided by the success of the many cuts that Fincher almost certainly used to get everything looking as perfect as possible – the making of this film is as methodical as Fassbender’s multi-named killer protagonist.

The strong sense of narrative is provided largely by voiceover, as The Killer himself is largely silent throughout much of the film. He goes by many names and we never learn his real one, there’s even a nod to Tony Gilroy’s Nightcrawler with the usage of Lou Bloom as an antagonist – surely intentional – with the frequent international flights making this a truly global affair. We get discourse on types of cities across the world; for example – we learn that Paris is a late rising city, and the morality play runs throughout the film as the Killer grapples with his commitment to trusting nobody. Time and time again; you’re reminded of this – yet you’re still shocked when he doesn’t let the words of his foe get to him. You’re used to Hollywood characters making mistakes, trusting the antagonists at their word – yet The Killer is not your normal Hollywood character. His luxury home in the Dominican Republic shows the valued success of his lifestyle; but he’s not John Wick – and the film makes that very clear.

If you’re looking for a Hitman video game adaption The Killer is probably the closest you’re going to get. Video games adaptions are often constrained by their lore; yet liberated from the need to stick to that – what little lore Hitman has anyway, Fincher crafts a spectacle: more of an ode to Rear Window especially in its opening act with the stellar Paris sequence; showcasing The Killer’s daily routine before a kill – involving a commentary on mcdonalds and german tourists, you get to see a sense of how this Alain Delon-esque figure operates. Fincher even provides a commentary on how he can put so much work into his films before something goes wrong that you haven’t foreseen into his script as well – creating so much detail in the film that we even get a sense of his order from Maccys. He claims not to care, but it’s clear that he does – to a degree – the film follows a simple three act revenge structure that makes it easy to understand and easy for Fincher to have tons of fun with. Style is the operative word here; and boy is it stylish – slick, smooth and powerful viewing – The Killer is one of the best films of the year and a return to form for David Fincher who showcases that Mank wasn’t the start of a trend, merely a blip in the ocean.

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