Combustible Celluloid Review - The Killer (2023), Andrew Kevin Walker, based on comic book by Alexis "Matz" Nolent, Luc Jacamon, David Fincher, Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Sophie Charlotte
Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Sophie Charlotte
Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker, based on comic book by Alexis "Matz" Nolent, Luc Jacamon
Directed by: David Fincher
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and brief sexuality
Running Time: 118
Date: 10/27/2023

The Killer (2023)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This story of a lone contract killer is shallow and familiar, based on nihilistic and narrow philosophies of life, but it's rich with craft and style; it moves beautifully and it's never boring.

We meet the killer (Michael Fassbender), a hitman for hire who is on his latest job in Paris. He narrates the minutiae of his work, his preferred mental state, his methods for avoiding evidence, etc. But after prepping and waiting for several days, he squeezes the trigger… and misses his target.

The fallout begins almost immediately. He returns to his hideout in the Dominican Republic and finds it ransacked, and his companion (Sophie Charlotte) brutally injured. He begins an intricate plan of revenge, which means tracking down every single person involved, no matter how powerful or how well-protected. But can he stick to his regimented principles, or will passion take over?

After a career spent exploring violence and hubris in twisty, complex ways, filmmaker David Fincher offers the stripped-down The Killer, perhaps his simplest work yet. It's based on a French graphic novel by Alexis 'Matz' Nolent and Luc Jacamon — whose work also provided the basis for Walter Hill's Bullet to the Head — and it borrows from movies like Grosse Pointe Blank, The American, and Gemini Man, stories of lone wolves and their meticulous methods. It's broken up into neat chapters set in various locations, and peopled with characters that don't even have names.

At some point many viewers may find themselves wondering what it all means and coming up empty. But watching the title killer execute his intricate plans, an ace up his sleeve at every turn, is positively mesmerizing. Fincher's crisp editing and visual storytelling is as taut and lean and muscular as Fassbender himself. Eventually, The Killer may not offer any lingering deep thoughts or solutions to the mysteries of life, but it certainly hits the target.

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