top of page

REVIEW: The Killer: David Fincher Back into His Roots

By Santiago Brion | November 20, 2023

Photo Credit: CineMaterial

“The Killer” is a new movie from acclaimed filmmaker David Fincher. The film is about an unnamed assassin played by Michael Fassbender who, while on an assignment in France, misses his target and pays the price for it when someone close to him is attacked.

This leads “The Killer” on a revenge mission to murder the people who he worked for and who attacked his home in Santo Domingo. During the assassin’s vendetta, he learns to regain a bit of his humanity that he thought he lost when he took the assassin job.

David Fincher goes back to his roots in terms of making compelling psychological crime thrillers. His best work being “Fight Club,” “Se7en.” “Zodiac,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Gone Girl.” In terms of how this movie lives up to Fincher’s work, it’s a worthy movie of the acclaimed director’s career. The film is incredibly shot with Erik Messerschmidt’s cinematography with a banger of a performance from Fassbender.

The actor specifically has a silent, but deadly demeanor. Most of the roles that Fassbender plays tend to be disturbed individuals with a complex past or mysterious people with hidden layers within their character. From the beginning narration, the film tells you almost everything that you should know about this guy. He kills his targets no matter who it is as long as he gets paid.

He also narratively states that he lacks empathy and morality. His philosophy on how he kills stems from how good he is at his job. If he feels empathy, his assignment becomes messy. The man’s targets include very powerful people like billionaires who run these massive corporations. When the protagonist does miss his target, he starts to regain a bit of his humanity throughout the course of his revenge spree.

“The Killer” has some dark humor with memorable narration lines like “WWJWBD, What Would John Wilkes Booth Do,” and the assassin’s music tastes like listening to The Smiths, which implies that he’s just like any human who likes sad music. The quote, of course, refers to the infamous assassin of Abraham Lincoln. The Killer thought to himself what would JWB do if he missed. Fincher’s use of dark humor in his movies show that he’s not afraid to add comedic relief into the movies that are disgusting in the film’s concept.

Another standout performance includes Tilda Swinton’s “expert” character. With only 10 minutes of screentime, she lays into the assassin’s mistake with his target and reflects on her life’s work knowing that she never showed any sense of humanity within her while the main character begins to regain his sense of humanity.

The film does have some flaws however, like its product placement. For example, it has the appearance of the Amazon logo, but I think it works in the movie. Because the targets mainly include people who work for big corporations, the executives. The film’s detailed symbolism showing how these middle-class workers sometimes need to work for these big brands to be kept afloat in a stabilizing economy but at the same time, the big corporate steam mills are also running the country into the ground, polluting the environment, having a hand in ecocide and in genocide.

Another standout moment from this movie is the fight between The Killer and The Brute, resulting in the main character killing The Brute and sparing The Brute’s pitbull, indicating that the assassin is showing a sense of empathy.

The film ends with the main character sparing Claybourne’s life and returning to his solitary home in Santo Domingo. While he didn’t complete his revenge quest, he leaves behind his work knowing that he has regained a bit of his humanity back, and that he can listen to “The Smiths” in peace.

I give “The Killer” a solid 8.5/10

David Fincher’s “The Killer” can be watched on Netflix.


bottom of page