Execution is everything.
The Killer is a 2023 neo-noir crime thriller film directed by David Fincher, written by Andrew Kevin Walker, produced by Netflix Studios, Plan B Entertainment, Boom! Studios, and Panic Pictures (II), and distributed by Netflix. The film is based off of Alexis Nolent and Luc Jacamon's 1998 comic book of the same name. It stars Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton.
"Stick to your plan. Anticipate. Don't improvise. Trust no one." - The Killer
After a hit goes wrong, a mysterious man undergoes a thrilling chase to ensure his safety.
Before I get into my review, let me illustrate my background with this movie: I love David Fincher. He has directed some of my favorite movies (The Game, Fight Club) and even other ones that, while not my favorites, I still think are great (Zodiac, Se7en). While I haven't seen his entire filmography, there is not a single movie of his I dislike.
To start with the positives, though, The Killer is a very slickly-made film. Fincher himself does a great job behind the camera. The main character of this film (known only to the audience as "The Killer) is a very quiet, methodical man, and this entire movie takes on the persona of The Killer. The camera moves in a very quiet, methodical manner. The atmosphere is alert and tense, but it doesn't use big action and shocking moments to create thrills. Fincher does a great job of capturing this movie from The Killer's perspective, which automatically makes it an interesting watch.
I also thought Michael Fassbender was great. The movie's dialogue is almost entirely voiceover, so Fassbender has to do a lot of acting with his face and his body, and he does a fantastic job of that. Like much of the rest of the film, he embraces the quiet, methodical tone and applies that to his performance. Slight changes in his face dictate the character's emotions. You can understand what he is thinking without a line of dialogue having to explain it to you. The Killer is in every scene of the film, so this movie relies a lot on Fassbender's performance, and he does a solid job with that responsibility.
I also found this movie to be very interesting. It is definitely unique. It doesn't feel like a typical thriller or even a typical David Fincher movie. It has its own style. It is based off of a French comic book, and that makes sense, because comic books have a very particular nature to them that I think The Killer engages.
While I appreciate the unique approach that this movie takes, I unfortunately do not think that unique approach paid off.
I've noticed one of my least favorite trends in movies is the "catch-up" trend. To maintain an element of mystery or suspense in certain films, movies like The Killer start in the middle of a scenario where the audience has no idea what is going on. So, immediately, the viewer is forced to play catch-up. These said films never have a big exposition dump explaining everything. Instead, they just drop clues throughout the movie to hint at the audience as to what is going on. By the end, the audience member puts it all together, but it took an entire movie, and it can get very distracting. Watching a film where you do not know what is going on is a very tedious experience. I understand sustaining some sense of mystery, but The Killer just overdoes it to a point where it takes you out of the movie because you are thinking so hard as to what could possibly be going on.
But the worst part of the movie is the way that the story plays out. The film is divided into chapters. Each chapter really feels like a separate, one-off story. It almost feels like a miniseries strung together into a movie. Each chapter essentially introduces a goal for The Killer that he must achieve to continue on his journey. And every single chapter goes exactly the way that it is supposed to go. With the exception of the inciting action, this movie barely has anything go wrong. I swear to God, this may be the first Hollywood film I have seen where everything goes right. That isn't fun. That isn't thrilling. That is predictable. And, because Fincher is so known for shocking twists and reveals, that was incredibly disappointing.
I also think the script for this movie was probably about thirty pages. The general rule for a film script is that each page equals out to a minute in the final film. Nothing happens in this movie! There's barely any dialogue and most of the film is spent watching The Killer as he goes around finding places and buying things.
And that all circles back to one point: this movie is boring. One word I never thought I would use for a David Fincher film (with the exception of Benjamin Button, I guess, but I haven't seen that yet). This film just drags on and on forever and ever. It feels like it's never going to end and we are just repeating the same beats. It's both too simple and too confusing. It was not a fun watch.
Final Thoughts and Score
I wish I could say I did, but I really did not like The Killer. It ranks as my least favorite film from David Fincher...and it isn't even close.
I will go Sour here. Age range is 13+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 4/10
Directed by David Fincher
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, suggestive material, thematic elements
Released on October 27, 2023 (limited) Released on November 10, 2023
1 hour and 59 minutes
Michael Fassbender as The Killer
Tilda Swinton as The Expert
Charles Parnell as Hodges
Arliss Howard as Claybourne
Kerry O'Malley as Dolores
Sophie Charlotte as Magdala
Emiliano Pernía as Marcus
Gabriel Polanco as Leo
Sala Baker as The Brute
Endre Hules as The Target