In David Fincher‘s latest Netflix offering, “The Killer,” audiences are in for a treat that perfectly aligns with its intriguing title and the director’s signature style. Adapted from a graphic novel by Alexis Nolent, this wry and meticulously crafted crime thriller stars Michael Fassbender as an enigmatic assassin, offering a refreshing departure from the typical suave, super-cool hitmen often seen on screen.
Fassbender’s character is a far cry from the charming assassins we’re accustomed to; he’s an emotionally detached, shadowy figure who thrives on anonymity. His face, hidden beneath a cheap bucket hat and obscured by darkness, rarely sees the light of day. When a Parisian assignment goes awry, he is forced to break free from his routine, leading to a captivating, old-school genre experience filled with globetrotting escapades, action-packed sequences, and slick adversaries.
“The Killer” embraces its pulp roots and serves as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of the iconic James Bond films. However, it takes a more amoral approach, making its anti-hero all the more intriguing. With the potential for a franchise, Netflix and Fincher could have a hit on their hands.
This film goes beyond the typical assassin archetype, opting for a subversive approach. Instead of sleek tuxedos or elaborate disguises, the killer dons mundane, uninspiring attire, intentionally blending in with the crowd. His deadpan voiceover, reminiscent of Fincher’s “Fight Club,” adds depth to his character, as he shares his strategy of looking like a German tourist in Paris to avoid unwanted attention.
Despite his seemingly ordinary appearance, Michael Fassbender’s charisma shines through, making his character’s cheekbones alone a deadly weapon. “The Killer” subverts expectations in multiple ways, especially in terms of costuming, where designer Cate Adams deliberately chooses bland, ready-to-wear outfits.
The film’s deliberate pacing allows for moments of introspection, as the killer bides his time in a Parisian apartment, awaiting his target. This includes engaging in yoga and voyeuristic activities, reminiscent of Hitchcock‘s “Rear Window.” The soundtrack, featuring The Smiths‘ songs and Trent Reznor’s score, adds to the film’s atmospheric and unsettling ambiance.
As the story unfolds, the killer’s mission becomes a pursuit of revenge, executed with meticulous precision. However, his motivations remain ambiguous, particularly regarding his romantic partner Magdala, whose suffering feels like collateral damage in a relentless battle against his adversaries.
Throughout the film, the killer faces moral dilemmas, defying traditional expectations of assassin characters. These encounters challenge viewers’ empathy and keep the narrative unpredictable, culminating in an ending that may leave some audiences questioning the film’s moral stance.
In “The Killer,” morality is a gray area, reflecting an existentialist philosophy that embraces unpredictability and a distinct lack of adherence to a higher moral purpose. The film’s references to Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le Samourai” and its mid-century modern vibes add depth to its enigmatic narrative.
“The Killer” offers a refreshing take on the assassin genre, showcasing Michael Fassbender’s exceptional talent and David Fincher’s knack for storytelling. As an unsettling anti-hero embroiled in a world of intrigue, this film is sure to leave viewers contemplating its moral complexities and reveling in its unapologetically audacious approach.