The Killer. No, not the John Woo Hong Kong movie classic but a 2023 Netflix film helmed by David Fincher and starring Michael Fassbender as the titular character. Based on a French comic book, though it has nothing to do with superheroes, The Killer is probably best described as the perfect antidote to the John Wick franchise and tries its level best to inject a certain realism into the hitman genre.
The plot itself is quite similar to John Wick, in that our unnamed protagonist is out for revenge against those responsible for hurting a loved one. The main difference is that there is hardly any violence in this movie. Which is strange for a story about an assassin, isn’t it? Rather the main hook here is that the main character spends most of his screen time in monologue. While laconic to a fault when out in the real world, we get to hear his thoughts incessantly throughout the movie.
Which, depending on your perspective and prejudices, can either be refreshing or dull. I personally felt that there was a certain comfort in the lack of violence in this. For one thing, the suspension of disbelief was handled particularly well. For another, it made sense that killing was something done in private, in the shadows, rather out in the open, in a free-for-all visceral orgy of violence, as in the John Wick franchise.
Fassbender is excellent as our stoic protagonist – the idea that an assassin had to be unremarkable, indistinguishable from the everyman, resonated with me. How else could he avoid detection and capture? There was a clinical precision that appealed to anyone who enjoyed how the sausage was made – with respect to an assassination – without having to trouble oneself with whether the violence was realistic or not.
In the final analysis, The Killer might be a little ponderous for some, its measured pacing reflecting the personality of our main character but it all worked for me. Highly recommended.
Watch now on Netflix
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