michael fassbender in a window in the killer

‘The Killer’s Exploration of the Mind of an Assassin Is a Return to Form for David Fincher

5/5 Fincher kills.

David Fincher’s work dips into the mind of killers and often the darkest parts of our psyche. Playing with the aspects of our twisted thoughts we might not want to explore, his work is often so morbid and weird that it captures your attention and instantly makes you fascinated by the story unfolding before you. With few exceptions (like his previous film Mank), Fincher’s work is almost always connected to murder and mystery, and his latest, The Killer, is no different.

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The Michael Fassbender-led film takes the audience on a mission with an assassin. In Chapter One: Paris, the Killer (Fassbender) explains the rules of the “game.” But what happens when his batting average dips? What is the punishment for an assassin who strikes out? Suddenly, this overly precise killer is thrust into a panic when his target survives the kill and a civilian gets in the way, and the film quickly switches from a voiceover-heavy examination of a mindset of cold, deadly precision into a run for the Killer’s life and to get some answers.

The quick switch in tone and the frantic nature of the twist in Fassbender’s once stoic performance make The Killer a film that will keep you on the edge of your seat in a way that has that Fincher appeal while still being new and fresh, even if it is one of his shorter movies (both Panic Room and Alien 3 run slightly shorter). With that brand of Fincher comedy that doesn’t feel like you should be laughing but you can’t help it, mixed with his tones and blood splatter, The Killer is a return to form for the director after a slight departure with Mank.

Fincher’s twisted American Psycho

Michael Fassbender in David Fincher's the Killer for Netflix

American Psycho is all about the twisted mind of Patrick Bateman as he tells us, the audience, about his kills. For a lot of The Killer, we’re listening to Fassbender’s narration as he is doing pretty much the same thing. It reminds me, in a beautiful way, of the same idea, but approached in that David Fincher way I love so dearly. It is an homage, maybe, to Fincher’s past work in films like Fight Club, or maybe just the appeal of getting into the mind of a killer by using narration to be completely consumed by their thoughts without a means of escape.

While I would have loved a movie that was all about Fassbender’s Killer just taking us through each of his jobs as a hired assassin, I think the switch in the narrative and its twist make The Killer a new kind of film for him, not as straightforward as his other detective or psychological films and less about the final twists that we’re waiting for.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.