Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by David Fincher.
Starring Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton. Arliss Howard.
Thriller, US, 118 minutes, certificate 15.

Released in cinemas in the UK on October 27th and streaming on Netflix from November 10th.


How many times have we been here before, in the mind of a lone assassin with a strict code and self-imposed set of rules, finding himself on the run after a hit gone wrong? Countless times, to be sure, but in the hands of David Fincher, making a return to full-on genre filmmaking after the somewhat niche MANK, and re-uniting with SE7EN screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, the results are a highly entertaining spin on cinematic hit man tropes with an added amoral edge that elevates the material.


Based on the French graphic novel series, the film gets up close and personal with Michael Fassbender's hitman known only as The Killer (this is a film where the primary players forfeit names for professions and characterisations: The Target, The Lawyer, The Brute, etc.) We meet this dealer of death in the middle of an operation that details how much of the job entails sitting around doing nothing in preparation for the real bloody work that only takes a matter of seconds. In time-honoured fashion, the job goes wrong, and The Killer's employers decide that all loose ends must be tied up, a decision that The Killer is more than prepared to throw back in their faces in a highly escalated and stylishly executed (sorry) fashion.


Travelling across the globe, we gain access to the inner workings of The Killer's mind through a voice-over that takes homicide and paranoia for granted. Although there is a code at play here, it is a strictly psychopathic one that forbids empathy for anyone who gets in The Killer's way. This pitch-black tale places the amorality of such character’s front and centre, forgoing the usual inner conflict and events that force them to confront the error of their ways. Fassbender's Killer is a guilt-free machine with little sense of loyalty who runs on paranoia and simmering anger to a play list of The Smiths and Morrissey, a choice of music that is left to the viewer to decide if it either keeps the lid on his homicidal impulses or pries it wide open.


This being a David Fincher film, a certain sense of style is expected, and The Killer delivers it in spades. Erik Messerschmidt's expertly controlled wide screen photography, aided by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's score, ranging from a Carpenter-esque electronic thrumming to cacophonous feedback, smartly reflects the inner mind of The Killer alongside Walker's finely tuned script, particularly the deadpan and darkly funny voice-over. Fassbender, returning to the screen after a four-year absence, delivers another excellent performance, possibly his most compelling yet: coiled up, dead-eyed and relying on a list of fake passports using the names of American sitcom characters through the years to cover his trail of dead bodies.


The Killer is as fascinating as it is exciting; scenes of Fassbender preparing for clean-up and disposal grab the attention as much as any scenes of combat, close-up or otherwise. Smartly updating the tropes of hit man cinema for the twenty-first century, note his use of abandoned start-up business offices as staging grounds for assassinations, this is one of the most exciting yet elegant pieces of action cinema this year, with a dark, immoral heart at its cold and lethal centre.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans