Few things are more popular right now than stories about murder. Whether about Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy, narratives of soulless killers are some of the most consistently popular pieces of media. But oftentimes, those stories result in sensationalized depictions that glamorize killing and desensitize the viewer to violence. David Fincher’s newest film, “The Killer,” while also a story about murder, is carefully crafted, rising above the common criticisms of the genre.
Though the film does not actively condemn every action of its lead assassin, it forces the viewer to sit in the cynical gloom of a contract killer and watch his distorted thought process firsthand.
But while “The Killer” dives deeply into its main character’s emotions, it comes at the expense of the narrative’s overall success. The plot ultimately becomes monotonous and repetitive, offering little to grip the viewer throughout the film.
“The Killer” follows an unnamed assassin (Michael Fassbender), who — after a botched hit — goes on an international manhunt to finish the job he started and take out everyone who stands in his way. As a character, the Killer moves from place to place with a different alias each time, limiting his contact with other people as much as possible. When he does interact with another person, it ends with their murder more often than not.
The majority of the Killer’s background is revealed in the first 15 minutes of the film. During an ultimately disastrous job in an abandoned Paris WeWork office, he discusses his job like a bored nine-to-five office employee would, highlighting the boringness and invariability of it all. Yet, as a cynic and potential sociopath, he feels like the job is perfect for him.
Beyond his personal philosophy, all we really know is that he likes to meditate while listening to The Smiths. He also has a girlfriend (Sophie Charlotte) in the Dominican Republic, who quickly becomes central to the plot but is hardly ever seen. While the Killer’s actions throughout the film suggest that he loves her, he never outwardly expresses that love. He only cares about the job he has to finish, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.
“The Killer” is a technical marvel of a film. With slick cinematography, tight editing and a chillingly atmospheric score, the movie places its audience directly into the cold and emotionless mind of its titular character. But the aesthetic of the film so expertly mirrors the calculated nature of its protagonist that it becomes a bit of a drag to watch. While the lack of glamorization Fincher brings to the character’s life is commendable, it does not ultimately amount to a satisfying two-hour-long watch.
Finn Kirkpatrick is an arts & culture editor. He is a junior from Los Angeles, California studying Comparative Literature who likes to review movies and other things of that sort.