Director David Fincher has spent most of his career making stylish movies about murderers, sickos and sociopaths. He also has a dark sense of humor that permeates most of his films.
This is why I feel it is safe to say that “The Killer” might be the most on-brand Fincher movie to-date.
“The Killer” is the story of a hitman played with measured fastidiousness by Michael Fassbender. The plot is fairly straightforward, as following a hit gone awry, Fassbender travels the globe trying to cover his tracks and get at some angry criminals before they get at him.
More than anything, this movie is a character study as Fassbender narrates giving us the tips of the trade and his amoral philosophy of life throughout the movie. And while his character almost revels in the meticulous details it takes to be a successful hitman, he encounters enough blips along the way (like in the heat of battle, reaching into a kitchen drawer expecting to pull out a knife and instead pulling out a cheese grater) that takes the wind out of the sails of his Swiss-watch-precision planning.
Fassbender’s Killer has plenty of quirks and foibles (like his devotion to Emo gods The Smiths when he needs music to help him focus or his use of sitcom characters’ names as aliases) that make us want to root for him even though he is nothing more than a remorseless murderer.
You could also make the armchair psychologist assumption that this is Fincher’s most personal film as his almost ruthless dedication to precision and detail is apparent not only in his filmmaking, but with tales from the set where he torments actors with dozens of takes of the same scene.
There is a slightness to “The Killer” as it lacks a lot of depth and nuance. The style is there, but it almost feels more like a pilot to a television series (“The Killer,” coming this fall on Showtime) than a full-fledged movie.
It almost feels like a palate cleanser, a safe space for Fincher to get back to his roots before embarking on another big swing.
Even still, Fincher fans will find plenty to love about “The Killer,” as it plays like his greatest hits while taking us on a zippy and entertaining ride.
“The Killer” is rated R for strong violence, language and brief sexuality.