By Owen Glancy
Asst. Arts & Features Editor
“The Killer” is the latest film from prolific director, David Fincher, famous for his work on films such as “Fight Club” and “The Social Network.”
With this being a brand new Fincher movie, expectations going into the film were extremely high, especially after how divisive his previous film “Mank” was.
Unfortunately, this was very disappointing.
The film’s biggest strength is easily its production. The sets, music, cinematography, and lighting make every country visited by our unnamed protagonist feel distinct and real. Oftentimes in international thrillers like this, many of the same iconic landmarks are used over and over again, but here it feels like we really do see a more realistic side of international travel.
The action scenes on display here are also great. From the tense opening to the chaotic home invasions of the film proper, everything is shot and choreographed in a way that makes the action memorable and fun.
Michael Fassbender does a great job at portraying the protagonist in both his body language and the frequent inner monologues we hear throughout the film.
Sadly, this is where my praise ends. Despite Fassbender’s best efforts, his great performance cannot save how uninteresting his character is. The protagonist’s lack of a name and surprisingly little character development throughout the film makes it hard to connect with the character on even a basic level.
And this is where all of the film’s problems come from, the writing.
The point of the movie is to get you into the headspace of this cold-blooded killer and make you understand what his motives are and how he operates. However, because so much of the film is more interested in crafting this international revenge thriller, we don’t get enough time dedicated to this guy’s personal life.
Most of the film sees him trying to find and kill his employers after they attack a woman close to him following a botched assassination. This is a great premise squandered on a script that feels incomplete and unfocused. It’s never made clear what exactly the protagonist’s relationship with the woman is, or why the botched assassination was so important to his mysterious employers.
This veil of mystery can work in films of this genre, but not when we know nothing about our protagonist. The most information we learn about who he is as a person before this incident is in one line about 35 minutes into this 120-minute-long film - that’s it.
This movie is practically begging to be another 20 minutes long so we can learn anything about this guy beyond, “I’m a killer, here’s how I do what I do.” While this can be an interesting angle, without the time to properly build up why this guy is so apathetic beyond “it’s my job,” it instead leaves the audience disconnected from the main character.
The popularity of the “John Wick” franchise does this film very few favors. It makes it seem boring in comparison, and while “The Killer” may have been influential and new if it was released 15 years ago, in the modern film climate it just comes off as boring and unfocused.
It’s sad because so much of the film is done well. As previously stated, the production and central performance are phenomenal, but when the script is this haphazard and the main character so hard to connect to, it makes the good parts of the film seem like a fluke.
David Fincher is a phenomenally talented director, responsible for some of the greatest films of all time, but “The Killer” is undoubtedly a rare Fincher miss.
A bland protagonist combined with a jumbled mess of a script drags down a film with excellent music, cinematography, action, and acting, to the point where you barely even notice these positives by the time the credits roll.
Fincher’s worst film since “Alien 3”