Jamie Skinner reviews David Fincher's The Killer: In the wake of a job going wrong an assassin (Michael Fassbender) takes it upon himself to track down his employers and contacts linked to the job.
Cert - 15, Run-time - 1 hour 58 minutes, Director - David Fincher
“Forbid empathy. Empathy is weakness. Weakness is vulnerability” Michael Fassbender informs us on multiple occasions, simply credited as The Killer. Most of the key players in David Fincher’s latest, based on the French comic-book of the same name, are simply credited under a job title of sorts. It adds to the ‘just business’ methods with which the central character goes about his work, even in the face of a job going wrong.
A cold, monotone monologue detailing the intricate details of performing an assassination makes up the first ten minutes of The Killer just before things go wrong. Even with the knowledge of chaos and panic the protagonist remains calm and collected, displaying the same stoney expression, maintaining a matter-of-fact tracking of events. Things might have gone wrong, but he’s moving with the flow, ready to track down his employers and contacts linked to the job after the negative consequences of it.
We’re not meant to connect with Fassbender’s character, he’s an emotionally distant figure constructed with familiar Fincher coldness and a strong central performance. What we are meant to find is intrigue in how he goes about his work and routine. While this may be treated as all part of the job there are hints of personal feelings felling into the mix. They may only be occasional drops, providing a push to the narrative, but they have an effect and add more to the face leading the events overall.
We may not be entirely emotionally connected, but there’s still space for tension in the action sequences when they crop up. Action which contrasts with the opening stages, and the consistent tones of How To Succeed In Murdering With Plenty Of Trying, by bringing in an air of messy violence. While one sequence involves bodies, bullets and blood crashing through walls with a fiery background poking its head through the frame of a broken door the most suspenseful of the film is a quiet, seat-gripping heist in a gym. Demonstrating just how easily the order and control which has built up could be shattered.
This is something different from Fincher. While, as mentioned, he maintains a coldness to his latest feature the overall product is something of a shift from his previous works - as he has shown himself to make on a handful of occasions. The chaptered flow of the narrative as the titular killer executes his “fully logistical” affairs adds to the tightly-held feeling of control already embedded in the steadily-paced matter-of-fact narration. One which creates intrigue with the central character and how he will deal with the faces he ‘does business’ with no matter the time or location. The distanced mixtures throughout create plenty of intrigue and make for an interesting, entertaining thriller.
Jamie Skinner, four stars ****