‘The Killer’ Is David Fincher at His Wicked Best – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

‘The Killer’ Is David Fincher at His Wicked Best

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Netflix

From the mournful desolation of Alien 3 and Seven, to the satiric cynicism of Fight Club and epic futility of Zodiac, to the gnawing bitterness of The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl, David Fincher’s cinema has always had a noir heart. Thus, it’s natural that he fully embraces bleakness with The Killer, a hired-gun thriller (adapted from Alexis “Matz” Nolent and Luc Jacamon’s French graphic novel series) that lovingly channels one of the genre’s finest modern examples, Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1967 masterpiece Le Samouraï. The story of a cold, methodical assassin who’s driven by a strict code of conduct, and which is made with the exacting meticulousness that defines the director’s oeuvre, it’s arguably the greatest expression yet of Fincher’s style and worldview—caustic, unrelenting, and wickedly funny.

Like the illustrious Melville predecessor, Fincher’s The Killer (in theaters Oct. 27 and on Netflix Nov. 10) revolves around a homicidal professional (Michael Fassbender) who accepts the void at the center of the universe because he is one himself. A nameless specter in sunglasses and a tan hat and jacket, Fassbender’s protagonist is a figure of discipline, detachment, and rigorous ritual. As he says in the flat inner-monologue narration that functions as the vast majority of his dialogue, he’s a man who believes not in fate, karma, or God but, rather, in procedure, preparation, and attention to detail. Guided by a mantra that he repeats throughout the course of his story, he trusts no one, never improvises, and avoids empathy because it’s a weakness that begets vulnerability. “My process is purely logistical,” he intones, and the key to his success, as he so bluntly puts it, is that “I. Don’t. Give. A. Fuck.”

Fassbender is the ideal actor to inhabit this murderous cipher, radiating the sort of chillingly rational, ruthless emptiness that characterized his turns in Steve McQueen’s Shame as well as Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. In the star’s hands, the killer is a machine who thrives by adhering to his ethos and its attendant routines. Quoting Popeye, he describes himself succinctly with, “I am what I am.” Fincher, however, knows that the lifeblood of noir is the tension—and, more often than not, doom—that comes from such an individual choosing to be who he’s not, or at least stepping outside his chosen path. Consequently, after opening scenes in which this agent of death articulates his core philosophy while waiting to slay a bigwig in a Parisian penthouse suite, Seven scribe Andrew Kevin Walker’s superbly concise script throws a wrench in his carefully laid out plans, courtesy of an unthinkable mistake: with his target in his sniper-rifle sights, Fassbender’s hit man misses his shot.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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