The Killer review: David Fincher’s latest is stylish yet sluggish – The Indian Express

The film about a brooding hired assassin seeking revenge is too straightforward to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller

the killerThe Killer is helmed by David Fincher.

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It is possible that those familiar with David Fincher’s stylish, dark and atmospheric movies (Fight Club, Zodiac, Gone Girl and others) would have let out a “wow” while watching The Killer’s opening sequence that hints at an interesting premise. It shows a hired assassin (Michael Fassbender), who is solitary, taciturn and contemplative, waiting in a deserted building for his next target to arrive in a plush hotel located across the street. During this long-drawn-out sequence, he tries to keep his emotions under control, stay focussed, exercise and take short naps. It’s his monotonous voice-over — more like a lengthy thought bubble in a graphic novel — that tries to engage the audience’s attention as he goes through this mundane routine.

Though the voice-over comes across as an interesting tool at first, as the film progresses this becomes tedious. It doesn’t help that the assassin keeps repeating certain lines (such as “Empathy is weakness”; “Fight the battle that you are paid to fight”; and “Anticipate, don’t improvise”) to himself, as if to calm his nerves, every time before he hunts down someone. This makes the story of a hit man on the prowl, which is an adaptation of French comic book by the same name created by writer Alexis “Matz” Nolen and artist Luc Jacamon, drab.

Yet, it is not a surprise that The Killer does reflect Fincher’s impressive visual aesthetics and cinematic style even as it keeps the storytelling sharp and straightforward. As a hitman on a mission, Fassbender has the perfect body language and deadpan expression. Some of the action sequences are engaging and well-choreographed. His encounter with Swinton and the exchanges they have over a flight of whiskeys add some spark to the narrative. But that’s too little and comes a bit late in the story. The story, which appears lean in the absence of layers and complexities, does not draw the audience into this brutal world of assassins. It also does not offer enough reason for the audience to relate to the assassin’s fury or inner turmoil as he moves from Paris to the Dominican Republic to America seeking revenge.

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The process of how an assassin hunts down his/her targets and goes for the kill can be engrossing for the audience (This is already established in movies such as Kill Bill I and II). Fincher’s earlier movies too have dealt with twisted human psyche and intriguing characters. For instance, Amy in Gone Girl is a dangerous yet captivating character. The audience is on the edge of their seats as the layers of her character are peeled away in the course of the movie. In The Killer, Fincher keeps it uncomplicated and flat, almost deliberately.

It is possible that Fincher wanted a ruthless assassin pondering and philosophising about the world (his voiceover tells us about his views regarding exploitation, survival and others) to leave a mark on the viewers. That, however, remains unrealised.

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Arliss Howard, Charles Parnell, Monique Ganderton

Streaming on Netflix

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First published on: 11-11-2023 at 08:19 IST

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