The Killer review: An ace assassin, only quieter
First there was Fight Club and Seven, then there was Gone Girl and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Now director David Fincher is back with The Killer, the latest thriller to grace Netflix.
Starring Michael Fassbender in the lead role, supporting cast such as Tilda Swinton and Sala Baker all remain nameless as they take up their roles in a twisted web of a planned killing gone wrong.
As per the film’s synopsis “Solitary, cold, methodical and unencumbered by scruples or regrets, a killer waits in the shadows, watching for his next target. Yet, the longer he waits, the more he thinks he’s losing his mind, if not his cool.”
Based on the French graphic novel series of the same name, Netflix‘s The Killer is quietly cunning in its execution but might go over the heads of Netflix binge-watchers looking for something to ravage.
Fassbender is the near-silent star
It’s almost amazing that a main character hardly has any dialogue, let alone a name. Aside from the odd expletive muttered under his breath, Michael Fassbender’s Killer is almost entirely selectively mute, with running commentary in the form of voice-over entirely shaping how audiences perceive him. His astute observations range from the spectrum of human behavior to how many branches of McDonald’s you might find in Paris, hinting at a sharp comedic undertone that surprisingly underpins a lot of the action.
Fassbender himself is quietly glorious in his role as a contract killer. No move is unplanned, yet every move is unforeseen. Repeating his killing mantra becomes something that works against him, fighting against the rare occasion of completely messing a high-paying job up. Along the way, the Killer takes viewers across the globe, peppered with eccentric and entertaining faces while sporting a meta soundtrack from The Smiths that inspires a chuckle even in the most glum faces.
For a tried-and-tested method of storytelling, the narrative also feels fresh and original. Largely down to the sharp, edgy styling of The Killer, there’s a natural tension between calculated plans and unforeseen circumstances running amok. At its most heightened, The Killer hits the sense in a way which is almost too much to bear.
How will Netflixers take it?
That being said, the sharp styling of The Killer comes at a price.
For those that might not be as into their cinema – and are just looking for a meaty and entertaining thriller to watch – the film poses a risk of falling flat. This is where its partnership with Netflix might be its undoing, with an incredibly slow opening of 10 minutes potentially leading to a feeling of boredom. With little action and even less dialogue, it’s difficult to piece together exactly what will unfold, let alone keep up a level of enthusiasm for it.
Once the 10-minute mark is breached, Fassbender’s Killer takes off running and doesn’t look back. Each restrained interaction slowly reveals another part of our anonymous killer’s character, which in turn forms the outcome of a mission viewers already know won’t end well. Even when there’s a method to the madness, the decision to give into impulse leads to unexpected moments that could have perhaps been avoided.
The Killer review score: 4/5
In the ongoing war of the streaming platforms, The Killer might just be forgotten.
However, if viewers stick with their guns when seeking it out, they’re in some high-stakes action infused with pure artistry. Fassbender’s Killer is arguably the slickest and sexiest contract killer since Bond – and with just as much of the global panache.
The Killer comes to US theaters on September 27 and is released on Netflix on November 10. You can also check out our other Netflix hubs below: