The Killer (2023) Netflix Movie Review – David Fincher’s aesthetics keep this plotless story running

David Fincher’s aesthetics keeps this plotless story running

Let’s be honest David Fincher has a very established style that makes it a treat to watch his thrillers. We see that in The Killer too from the rock music, the philosophical musing, the noir aesthetic and the preference for steady gazes over dialogues.

Based on the French comics Le Tueur, The Killer (2023) is a Netflix Original directed by David Fincher, starring Michael Fassbender in the titular role. The ageing Killer has spent too many years on the job and finally seems to get an out when an assassination job goes wrong. As retaliation, his lover, Magdala is attacked and he sets out to get revenge. 

The Killer teeters between an artistic noir movie and a straightforward revenge action as the Killer begins his chase. Fassbender is a meticulous assassin but his patience seems to be wearing thin. He gives off Patrick Bateman’s sociopathic vibes with his interest in music to tune out the horror, but here the Killer is more complex than that, he has feelings.

The use of music adds to the David Fincher style as rock music interspersed with the Killer’s narration keeps us disjointed. It makes the viewers one with the Killer, feel the adrenaline, the panic, his emotions.

The cinematography counts to the cacophony of what seems to be the Killer’s mind. We get Rear Window-like shots, a glimpse of life through windows which is a stark contrast to the Killer’s life. There are some beautiful shots of the Dominican Republic as well but since the film is set in several locations, it doesn’t do justice to the rest like Paris and New Orleans.

And well, for an action movie, the Killer has perfected the cool action sequences which match David Fincher’s aesthetics. There are no dialogues, just straight-to-the-point action that shows each character’s personality. The Brute killer is all brunt force who loses his cool when he thinks he is about to lose. The Killer is strategic and knows his weakness. He keeps breaking his mantras as he fails to stick to the plan and almost always ends up improvising.

The secondary characters’ acting is strange, especially that of Magdala, her brother, the taxi driver and the client. It doesn’t match the tone of the film. Michael Fassbender, of course, does a good job as the stone-cold killer with secrets. So does Tilda Swinton as the Expert, she steals the scene as the talkative assassin. It can be seen that her character is an easy prop for exposition but it doesn’t feel out of place. She hooks the viewers in just like she does the Killer.

There are some plotholes that are glossed over. It feels a little too easy for the Killer to find the contractors’ cab in a huge city. Consequences matter till they don’t such as no one tracing it back to him as he gets in a cab in broad daylight and the driver ends up dead in the same city as his lover and her brother’s residence. There are tons of red herrings like the plane guy but nothing comes of it. 

The narration is another stylistic choice as the Killer drones on the aspects of life, the mundanity of life, his view on human nature and what it takes to be a killer. It gives us a better understanding of his mind. However, the fact that this is the opening of the film makes it unmemorable and tedious till the Killer makes his move.

The Killer also seems to have a weird pacing with the first half just being a wordless chase. It is necessary but too long. You are lost as the purpose of his actions is not made clear till his meeting with his handler in the second half when the action finally begins. Sure, it is intriguing with the way the movie doesn’t give us the full story at once but in bits and pieces. However, due to a lack of a strong climax and resolution, it feels empty once the film ends.

There is definitely character growth of the main protagonist which is a requirement for any successful story. We see the cracks forming from the first minute when the Killer messes up the job. He slowly changes from a man with blinkers to someone who starts understanding the world and people; he starts empathising, something he saw as a weakness initially.

But still, there is a sense of dissatisfaction as The Killer’s ending feels underwhelming. The Netflix movie has an interesting premise but well, with a weak script even David Fincher’s award-winning execution cannot save it.

Read More: The Killer Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 5/10

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