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Review: The Killer. Bit better than an average hitman movie

  • Release year: 2023
  • Director: David Fincher.
  • Producers: William Doyle and Peter Mavromates.
  • Screenplay by: Andrew Kevin Walker.
  • Cinematographer: Erik Messerschmidt.
  • Music by: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Synopsis: A hitman seeks revenge after his girlfriend is assaulted as retribution for his failure to complete an assignment.

Shotgun Commentary: Great revenge story; quiet, calm and with the perfect amount of violence.

A man sitting in an empty appartment, looking at the street through the window. It's right before sunrise.
Fig. 1. The Killer (Michael Fassbender) looking through the window at the building where his mark will be. Source: The Killer (David Fincher, 2023).

Review

One knows what to expect from director David Fincher (The Fight Club, Se7en, Zodiac). The themes might be varied, but the style is distinctive. You know what you are getting into, and if you don’t, the non-stop music by The Smiths will give you the final clue as to what the target audience is. If you think The Smiths are a little bit too intense and overrated, you’ll probably have the same conclusion about this film.

Lower your expectations

With this in mind, I don’t mind myself a bit of Smiths from time to time, so I quite enjoyed this film. That is not to say the feedback I’ve been reading isn’t highly exaggerated. It is, and I tried my hardest to not get my hopes up too much fearing I would be disappointed. Luckily, I was able to keep my scepticism so my final assessment was “…huh, not too bad”.

A man drinking water while looking through a window at night time.
Fig. 2. The Killer chilling, drinking some water. Source: The Killer (David Fincher, 2023).

As far as a hitman looking for revenge goes, the story is not very original at all. However, it is quite beautifully presented. I love Fassbender’s acting skills about as much as I love clean shots and seamless cuts, so in this respect the film was a ten out of ten.

Sadly, that great care for certain aspects of the film and the display of talent of the cast are slightly spoiled by numerous miscalculations in terms of the story itself.

That Funny Feeling

These hiccups start, as most things do, from the beginning. After around twenty minutes of Fassbender monologuing about how careful and precise one must be to be in his line of work, he proceeds to botch up a pretty simple hit to the theme of Charmed. Yes, the 90s witch show that used The Smiths for their opening credits. Granted, it was a Love Spit Love cover, but that doesn’t make the connection between that moment of the film and Charmed any less instant.

A man shooting a rifle.
Fig. 3. The Killer shooting amazing VFX. Source: The Killer (David Fincher, 2023).

Problematic

Memories from the past aside, the fact that he fails right after that longer-than-life monologue renders everything he said as nothing more than the rantings of a guy who thinks he is incredibly special and talented when he is actually nothing more than another sloppy hitman. In the same manner, the super cool routine he has to be the best at his job is afterwards perceived more like rituals to feed his ego or superstition than actual helpful actions.

Furthermore, the fact that he fails miserably at the very beginning after hyping himself up so much through the monologue, encourages you to keep looking for mistakes, and there are oh so many of them.

A man looking at his target.
Fig. 4. The Killer realising how useless he is. Source: The Killer (David Fincher, 2023).

Left brain, right brain

From the sloppy careless disinfecting to the multiple cocking of the same unfired gun, to making his exact position known for any possible assailant, to following people in the most Mr. Bean style possible or not seeing an obvious trap when it is presented. You don’t have to be a professional hitman to know that a very loud TV and the sound of undisturbed water in a shower at the same time in a house smells like a trap.

These are just some of the many mistakes that take away from the intended portrayal of Fassbender’s character. While The Killer is evolving into a more sympathetic person, these errors have nothing to do with empathy of emotions, they are rookie mistakes that make you wonder whether he actually knows what he is doing and how well-earned his reputation really is.

A scared cab driver driving a very serious man wearing sunglasses and a fisherman hat.
Fig. 5. The cab driver scared out of his wits by The Killer.
Source: The Killer (David Fincher, 2023).

How the world works

Another remarkable feature of the film is the continuous product placement featured in it. Netflix doesn’t need to actually play advertisements in between its films because they are in there already! Mercedes, McDonalds, Starbucks…

Although the big buck was clearly paid by Amazon. Their incredibly swift and convenient delivery methods are perfect for every hitman or wannabe criminal in general as well as for the general public! No, I haven’t been paid to say that, it is just what my brain heard while watching this movie.

A man using Amazon pick up.
Fig. 6. The Killer using Amazon. Source: The Killer (David Fincher, 2023).

To be fair, the non-stop placement actually gives the film another layer of realism if one considers how overexposed everyone is to advertising nowadays. Regrettably, that doesn’t make being subjected to it any less annoying than having to endure commercial breaks every two minutes.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • Digging for supplies is super cool when it’s raining and they just burned your house and killed your dog, not so much when you just want a couple of passports from the garden.
  • If you are going to make a character love listening to music while committing crimes, go big like Baby Driver, otherwise what is the point?
  • If you are worried there might be intruders in your house, don’t give away your location and don’t go around pointing your gun with a completely stretched arm. It is the easiest way to lose your weapon and, again, to let them know of your position before you know theirs.
A man walking around his house pointing a gun around.
Fig. 7. The Killer pointing his gun like an amateur around his house.
Source: The Killer (David Fincher, 2023).

What’s your take? Have you watched The Killer yet? Don’t be shy and let me know all about your experience, I’d love to hear about it! Leave your thoughts in the comments section below or send me a message through my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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