The Killer review: David Fincher crafts an intense yet distant assassin thriller | Hollywood - Hindustan Times
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The Killer review: David Fincher crafts an intense yet distant assassin thriller with Michael Fassbender

Nov 11, 2023 12:00 AM IST

The Killer review: Michael Fassbender plays an unnamed hitman for hire who goes on a personal trail of revenge in this David Fincher directorial.

Does the world need a meticulous deep dive into the mind of a nameless assassin in the form a film? Don't ask David Fincher, whose cold-blooded and ruthless portraits of modern day evil in Se7en and Zodiac never misses a mark. But the blatantly self-aware, nameless hitman (played by Michael Fassbender) in Fincher's new film, The Killer, certainly does. He misses the mark early on, after an indulgent monologue about how he prepares himself for the endless waiting, before he takes that aim. He thinks he has it under his grip. Yet, The Killer, which first premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and has now hit Netflix, loses itself into the collapse. It's surgically precise, technically flawless and yet too hardened in its own monitoring. (Also read: The Marvels review: Brie Larson leads a quick, disconcerting film of girls, cats, and crossovers)

The Killer is now streaming on Netflix.
The Killer is now streaming on Netflix.

The premise

Michael Fassbender never blinks as the cold-blooded hitman, setting himself at his Parisian hideout, waiting for his target. His voiceover presides over these opening minutes as if he is aware of our gaze. "Somehow jobs that are designed to rattle a cage are almost the most tedious," he says. Yet, even after a lot of calculation, his execution goes horribly wrong. He cannot afford to be seen- and so The Killer begins, like a reverse backtracking informed with Fincher's trademark attention to detail.

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Here, Fassbender's performance is sufficiently flexible- he is barely given spoken dialogue over the course of 118 minutes and creates the familiarity of his dreaded actions through a ton of voiceover. "Forbid empathy," he zooms in, as it causes vulnerability, which is a weakness. Yet, the fallout of this one miss shakes his life to an extent he cannot sideline. Back home in the Dominic Republic, he returns to see how his girlfriend has been brutally attacked by assailants. She has barely managed to escape. The hunter has now become the hunted, and this will not go unacknowledged by him, who goes on to repay it through the one way he knows best.

Final thoughts

Expect no second guessing in the straightforward direction Fincher takes in telling this story, which might come across as repetitive at some points. The filmmaker watches, and invites his audience, into witnessing the profanity of the mundane, and callousness of the modern day system, where a dangerous hitman leaves a trail of bodies behind him. Working with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' hypnotizing score, The Killer excites and frustrates, occasionally reminding us that we are in the hands of a master filmmaker who is playing out this story as a comment on the decaying capitalist society- where kindness, or even the perception of morality stands shut out of the door.

The Killer is not your trademark Fincher mystery, but it is a technical marvel like any other. Brilliantly edited by Kirk Baxter and shot by Erik Messerschmidt, this will get you hooked and pulsated throughout. Watch out, of course, for Tilda Swinton, who appears in merely one scene in the film, and steals the show. Her fated, revelatory submission is the voice The Killer needed more.

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