May 25, 2024

THE KILLER (2023) – Inside the head of a not so perfect assassin

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

The Killer has the distinction of bringing together two industry heavyweights: director David Fincher and actor Michael Fassbender. David Fincher is the filmmaker responsible for films such as The Fight Club, Se7en, Zodiac, Alien 3, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and, most recently, Mank. Michael Fassbender is most recognised for his roles in the X-Men series (as Magneto), Assassin’s Creed, Steve Jobs, and Prometheus. The notion of a David Fincher-Michael Fassbender cooperation in a film about an assassin surely raises the ante. It’s been a while since we’ve had a good old-fashioned psychological crime drama, a genre that David Fincher excels at, so you cannot blame me for getting all pumped up with the prospect of a rollicking good time.

First and foremost, let me state unequivocally that The Killer has nothing to do with, and is not a remake of, the John Woo movie of the same name. John Woo is in effect working on an English language remake of his own classic on his own. The Killer is based on a series of French graphic novels of the same name. Fassbender portrays an unnamed lead character. He’s supposed to be a hot shot hired killer with a perfect track record. However, in the film, he inadvertently botches a kill, resulting in a chain reaction in which he becomes the target instead. He starts on a manhunt to find out who is responsible for this, leaving a trail of bodies in the process.

David Fincher does not disappoint in the directorial style department here, as the film comes across looking stylish. He also makes good use of the sound effects and music, which increases the viewers’ connection with what’s going on visually. The sound also contributes to the viewer’s sense of being inside the killer’s head as he repeatedly thinks and overthinks to himself and his usage of music (mainly dark tunes by The Smiths) as a calming effect. In fact, my only complaint is what I perceive to be an overuse of the voice over by Michael Fassbender’s character. His monologues can border on being obnoxious, with absurd references to encyclopedia-like information on a variety of topics like the number of people dying in the world every minute, and number of births happening per second..

Fortunately, the plot is compelling enough to overcome this distraction. Fassbender’s professional killer image is a touch misleading here because he is perceived to be less than faultless. He is not John Wick, despite the fact that their jobs and obstacles are comparable. The killer in this case is a flawed individual who is far from invincible. Not only did he botch his kill, but he also failed to keep his partner from being gravely harmed, and he was even seen to break his own code of standard operational practise (by expressing no empathy to his victims). The constant voice over reflects a person that is tormented by what he does. The film’s rather subdued ending is a pleasant surprise that, in retrospect, was excellent despite feeling starkly different from the film’s violent premise.

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