Film: The Killer
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Arliss Howard, Charles Parnell, Kerry O’Malley, Sala Baker, Sophie Charlotte, Tilda Swinton
In a dog-eat-dog world, our killer is methodical and precise. Rules of his game are simple and straight — stick to your plan. Anticipate, don’t improvise. Trust no one. In a world, where it is now impossible to avoid being seen, he preaches not to stand out.
And despite his copybook style and sticking to each minute detail, a hit goes a miss and consequently this killer’s journey begins backwards, all the way down to the client who ordered the kill.
A familiar plot, but when one of the top working directors of the times, David Fincher, drops a film, the lovers of thrillers are going to watch it. The revered director maintains his signature style — super cinematography in grim tone, excellent sound design and fine acts.
While The Killer is no Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Gone Girl, it offers Fincher’s expertise in a familiar pack. Michael Fassbender is this unnamed, rather monotonous killer. While we get no introduction to his backstory, we get to know about his ways well. Seems like he’s in the top line in his profession, holds six storages across the US, multiple identities, reserves enough to start a new life anywhere (wouldn’t any assassin like to believe that!). He isn’t a believer of luck, karma or justice. And we hop on to a global jaunt along with him, eliminating all who risked what is dear to him.
Unlike Joaquin Phoenix as Joker or Keanu Reeves as John Wick, you neither condone him nor condemn but just play along. Though this Killer preaches — forbid empathy. Empathy is weakness. Weakness is vulnerability. Fight only the battle you are paid to fight. He gets on to this battle for his loved one. While most killings are uneventful, there is but one action-packed sequence between Killer and the target, Brute (Sala Baker) bang in the middle of the film, which sets the heart racing.
Based on comic The Killer by Alexis ‘Matz’ Nolent and Luc Jacamon, the film keeps one invested in this journey. More than a heart and flesh character, Killer is more like a robocop, a programmed assassin, who keeps chanting his mantra and is on the move, constantly. Except that this one eats McDonald burger, sans the bun, for protein, and banana and coffee; he takes care of his meals as well workouts. Fassbender fits the role perfectly. He’s shown to be methodical and rational. He acquiesces to Dolores’s (Kerry O’Malley) request to make her death look accidental, so that her children get the insurance money; he lets Claybourne (Arliss Howard) live, deducing he had no intention of harming him.
While the film focuses on Fassbender, there are others who stand out in their brief roles. Tilda Swinton as the expert enjoying a high-flying life in New York, and Gabriel Polanco as a young taxi driver, Leo, who meets a bloody end.
A journey that begins in Paris and ends in Dominican Republic, the cities work as characters even if in the fast-moving scenes. The city that never sleeps, New York, the sunshine state Florida, one enjoys these brief outings.
The sound is brilliant. The Smiths playing on Killer’s headphone take up some space. The rest is the natural world filling it up — crows cawing, pigeons cooing, cicadas chirping or a train’s whistle!
On the downside, our Killer speaks more than he shows, especially his method of close killing. Also, a backstory or bit more about Magdala (Sophie Charlotte), the Killer’s girlfriend, to put his motives in perspective, would have been rather nice.
Rated A, this David Fincher’s outing at one hour 58 minutes is for anyone invested in his style or thrillers alike, as long as you can deal with a rather reticent lead.
(Streaming on Netflix)