Review: The Killer is nothing short of a triumph for David Fincher and a treat for fans of his filmography. It may be the most Fincherian movie ever made, but far from devolving, it solidifies his mastery of the medium. A calm Michael Fassbender performance helps seal The Killer as on of the best movies of 2023.
In David Fincher’s latest film, The Killer, he plunges headfirst into a realm of shadows and moral ambiguity, crafting a film that is undeniably the most Fincheresque piece he’s ever brought to the screen. Released on Netflix after a brief run in theaters, and anchored by the cool and calculated Michael Fassbender, The Killer is a mesmerizing dance of violence, deceit, and self-reflection, tightly woven into the fabric of a slick, contemporary thriller. While some might argue that David Fincher is treading familiar ground, for those enamored with the director’s distinctive style, it’s a triumphant return to the roots that made him a figurehead in the industry.
From the opening frames, The Killer wraps its audience in the inky darkness of Fincher’s visual palette, reminiscent of his previous masterpieces like The Social Network and Gone Girl. The colors – deep blues, greens, and yellows – saturate every scene, creating an atmosphere both familiar and foreboding. Fincher’s meticulous attention to detail, a hallmark of his craft, is on full display, immersing the audience in a world of sleek modernity, where every frame feels like a carefully composed painting.
At its core, The Killer is a testament to Fincher’s commitment to his signature style, a culmination of decades refining his distinct visual language. However, this adherence to his established motifs may polarize some viewers who yearn for the director to push the boundaries of his craft. It’s as if Fincher, fully aware of his own tropes, revels in their familiarity, creating a film that both celebrates and challenges the expectations of his audience.
The narrative unfolds with immense precision, a characteristic trait of Fincher’s storytelling. Adapted from the French graphic novel series by Alexis Nolent and written by Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en), the plot follows Fassbender’s unnamed assassin character, a figure whose miss on a hit job triggers a relentless pursuit of vengeance against his own employers. The story is lean, the dialogue sparse, and much of the film’s emotional weight is carried by Fassbender’s haunting narration, a window into the tortured psyche of a man caught in the crossfire of his own choices and mistakes.
Fassbender’s performance is nothing short of riveting. With minimal dialogue beyond his own thoughts, he conveys a depth of emotion through his expressive eyes and subtle gestures. The film places the weight of its narrative squarely on Fassbender’s shoulders, and he carries it in a specific way that is both captivating and chilling. It speaks to his skill as an actor that he can command the audience’s attention even in moments of dreadful silence.
The supporting cast, while fleeting in their appearances, leaves an unmistakable mark. Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Arliss Howard, and Sala Baker (among a handful of others) each deliver brief yet memorable performances, adding layers to a narrative that is otherwise anchored by its solitary protagonist. The decision to keep these characters at arm’s length serves to amplify the loneliness and isolation that permeate Fassbender’s character’s journey.
Reviews for Films Directed by David Fincher
What sets The Killer apart from Fincher’s previous works is its unexpected humor. Fassbender’s unreliable narration provides moments of levity, offering a refreshing contrast to the film’s otherwise grim atmosphere. The irony of a meticulous and uptight assassin consistently finding himself in chaotic situations due to his own mistakes adds a touch of dark comedy, showcasing Fincher’s willingness to play with the conventions of his own thesis.
The film’s set pieces are a masterclass in tension and choreography. A standout fight scene in Florida defies expectations, showcasing Fincher’s ability to innovate within familiar territory. A police chase towards the end of the first act is a pulse-pounding spectacle, expertly shot and edited to deliver maximum impact. These sequences, coupled with a meticulously crafted soundtrack headlined by The Smiths (an incredible detail just by itself), elevate The Killer beyond the confines of its genre.
While the film’s genre-centric nature might limit its recognition at prestigious award ceremonies, it’s high time to acknowledge Fincher’s enduring contribution to the industry. The Killer feels like a spiritual sibling to Fincher’s The Game, both indulging in genre filmmaking in a uniquely Fincherian way. The film doesn’t shy away from its influences but instead embraces and transcends them, creating an experience that is as thrilling as it is thought-provoking.
The Killer is nothing short of a triumph for David Fincher and a treat for fans of his filmography. It may be the most Fincher movie ever made, but far from devolving, it solidifies his mastery of the medium. It’s a film that demands multiple viewings, as its layers reveal themselves with each revisit. The Killer is a compelling testament to the enduring brilliance of one of cinema’s modern maestros.
The Killer is available to stream on Netflix
The Killer (2023) Movie Cast and Credits
Michael Fassbender as The Killer
Tilda Swinton as The Expert
Charles Parnell as The Lawyer – Hodges
Arliss Howard as The Client – Claybourne
Kerry O’Malley as Dolores
Sophie Charlotte as Magdala
Sala Baker as The Brute
Director: David Fincher
Cinematography: Erik Messerschmidt
Editor: Kirk Baxter