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Film Review: The Killer (2023)

Kelaru & Fulton rating: ★★★★

Available in cinemas and on Netflix | Runtime: 1hr 58mins

 

I've never seen a film where the director's presence is as palpable as in The Killer. To put it simply, David Fincher's execution of this comic-book adaptation is as close to perfection as the execution of the killings by the main character, The Killer, portrayed by Michael Fassbender.


For those familiar with director David Fincher's work, it's no secret that he is a perfectionist to the point of exhaustion. From meticulously framing each scene to the multiple takes for every shot, even down to the use of CGI to perfect a mere three-second scene, his attention to detail is truly remarkable, and it always serves the narrative.


Found this excellent short study of Fincher’s use of CGI, from big sequences to totally unexpected uses (such as adding tiny splashes of blood using CGI):

With this latest crime thriller, Fincher once again establishes himself as one of the finest directors in the industry today. His famous meticulous and detail-oriented direction is on full display here, and even with somewhat limited source material, these two hours of masterful filmmaking offer a sensory feast.


The Killer may not present a story filled with intricate twists and turns, but it excels in its simplicity. This deliberate choice by the director allows the audience to focus on the conflicting character, the mood and atmosphere, and the ever-present danger in the killer's life.


Unlike Se7en or Fight Club there are no major surprises here, and that's not necessarily a drawback. This is a story about an assassin's job gone awry and the consequences thereof. However, when executed at this level of filmmaking, it becomes an entirely different beast. Fincher cleverly peppers the film with red herrings, ratcheting up the tension to the maximum. You can practically feel that, once the killer decides to deviate from his lifelong mantra that has kept him at the top of his game, everything around him becomes a potential threat.

It's no surprise that the score, composed by Fincher's long-time collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, is as contradictory as the character itself. It alternates between being mechanical, precise, synthetic, and pulsating when needed, and abrasive with dissonant strings when chaos ensues. It's not overpowering; it merely complements the story, as a film score should.


Then, there are the action sequences. They may not be numerous, but the film keeps you on edge from the very beginning. With a constant 'look-over-your-shoulder' feeling, the action sequences elevate the stakes even higher and pack a more significant punch. There's a mid-film sequence that left me breathless and pinned to my cinema seat. While not groundbreaking like Resurrection it's one of the most intense scenes I've witnessed in recent memory.


While The Killer may not be David Fincher's magnum opus, it undeniably bears his signature touch. The director's influence is omnipresent on the screen, and this is a testament to his years of honing his skills. Everything he does attains a level rarely seen on the silver screen today. It's no wonder that David Fincher is a subject of study in film schools worldwide.


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