Far from David Fincher’s best film, The Killer is still entertaining largely because of Michael Fassbender.
We’ve come to expect that any project directed by David Fincher is worth watching. He has given us classics such as Seven, Fight Club, and The Social Network. All of that being said, the back half of his career hasn’t been as impressive as the early years (minus Mindhunter, may that show Rest in Peace). That doesn’t mean that his latest projects have been bad. But they just feel very standard and straightforward, which is exactly what The Killer is.
The Killer is a standard hitman thriller we’ve seen before: A professional assassin gets tasked with a job that goes wrong and must deal with the consequences. And from the get-go with the film’s extended opening sequence, the movie feels familiar with Fincher aesthetics applied. As Fassbender’s character stakes out a location for a person he has to assassinate in Paris, we get the set up, the routine, and right moment for him to complete the job. While all of this is happening, Fassbender’s character speaks to the audience in a voice over about the entire process. There really isn’t much we haven’t scene during this sequence and in the first act as a whole. And with the pacing all over the place, don’t be surprised if your mind starts to wonder once you get past the slow burn effect of Paris and Fassbender’s actions.
Once he leaves Paris, the film picks up and we get to see a lot of Fassbender’s weird tendencies and habits. A lot of it is similar to Ben Affleck in 2016’s The Accountant. Even though it feels like something we’ve seen before, it’s still interesting mainly because of a strong performance from Fassbender, who we haven’t seen in front of our screens in what feels like ages. He is great in The Killer, and partially why the movie still works decently is because of him.
Once we get into the final act of The Killer, the pacing improves dramatically and there are a few really fun scenes, including one with Tilda Swinton that is the highlight of the entire movie. But despite these fun scenes, The Killer still leaves you feeling unsatisfied by the time the credits roll. It feels like a generic Netflix movie and that’s unfortunate considering we all know what David Fincher is capable of.
Simply put, nothing crazy or memorable happens in the movie. No twists, no crazy turns. Just a straightforward thriller. This doesn’t make it bad, but it’s definitely a Fincher movie that won’t be remembered. Fassbender stands out and makes it watchable, but this is one that you likely put on in the background during a rainy Friday night at home. No need to rush and see The Killer, though it’ll likely get lost in the Netflix algorithm just days after its release.
(out of five stars)