October 26, 2023

GENRE | David Fincher Catches 'The Killer' on Netflix

"Distance is your only advantage."
Kerry O'Malley David Fincher | The Killer Netflix
Plan B / Panic Pictures
Master filmmaker David Fincher heads back to the stylish killer thriller genre he helped revitalize in the neo-noir film adaptation of the French graphic novel series of the same name (aka Le Tueur) by comic book writer Alexis "Matz" Nolent and illustrator Luc Jacamon. The Killer stars the perfectly cast Irish actor turned racecar driver Michael Fassbender in his return to the screen after a four-year absence as the titular anonymous assassin for hire.

Fassbender's emotionless killer, who goes by a different alias in every situation he's in, is a zero-chill, icy professional assassin living by a strict code as he deliberately stalks his targets and eliminates them cleanly with cold efficiency—that is, until he doesn't. In one of the funniest recurring gags, the bucket hat-wearing, German tourist looking killer's sociopathic choice of music never fails to illicit humour, no matter how violent the scene. This is quite possibly the most David Fincher movie ever as the auteur unfolds his thriller with effective precision while remarking on his own professional tendencies of intense professional obsession.

Scripted by Se7en screenwriter and frequent Fincher collaborator Andrew Kevin Walker, the deliberate coldness of the title character and the six chapters within the film show the slow process of killing from job to job. Improvision is the enemy of the process. Fassbender and Fincher "stick to the plan" in an obsessive but spare film consisting of a series of moments and locations. His streak of commentary about our current culture of convenience and its clear downsides also never fails to pointedly mock our sense of imagined comfort amidst the gig economy.

There's a disquieting quality to the entirety of The Killer's ruthless two-hour runtime. In a clear metaphor for his own often laborious filmmaking process demanding precision, Fincher makes a case for his own storytelling instincts through Fassbender's cold but dynamic performance. With very little dialogue and not much of any traditional character development, audiences are dropped into a taught crime thriller about the process of killing for hire and professional revenge. So much of both killing and making a film is patiently waiting, waiting, and more waiting.

The Killer screens at both the VIFF Centre and Rio Theatre. It will be available to stream on Netflix starting November 10th.

More | YVArcade / Gate / Indiewire / Polygon

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