David Fincher began his career doing simple things perfectly, so perfectly that they approached a kind of spooky career. A video of Madonna. A Brad Pitt serial killer movie. Later, the thrill was seeing him face each other No-Such simple things, often continuing to do them perfectly. Other Serial killer movie, this one darker and more suggestive. a film about Facebook and backstabbing. If Fincher has since achieved too elegant With your choice of material, there is always the chance that that sparkle will return.
“The Killer” is that moment and you realize it almost immediately (and not just because of its wild Venetian blinds cut in a credits sequence, which soften us up beforehand). The bloody plot begins in Paris with a killer, never named, on an “Annie Oakley job,” lining up his target on an adjacent building with a scoped rifle. The guy sitting in the chair is played by Michael Fassbender, leaning into a kind of hyper-functional blandness. Even when he whispers his mantras off-screen, they are so banal that they seem like a narcotizing auditory rug: the feline calendar of murder advice (“Don’t improvise,” “Ban empathy”).
In short, he is a person about to do something simple to perfection. (“The Killer” is almost certainly Fincher’s most autobiographical film). But in a microsecond of exploding glass, everything goes wrong, sending our shooter onto the street, through traffic, and boarding international flights to get to the bottom of the story. an already frightening matter. It is armed in spades. It’s the kind of no-nonsense revenge story that directors like. John Boorman (“Point Blank” from 1967) or the Frenchman Jean-Pierre Melville (the film starring Alain Delon “Le Samourai”) used to rise to high art.
But don’t confuse this with great art. Don’t look for a broader cultural meaning. That’s by design. Adapted from a somewhat one-dimensional French comic series by writer Alexis “Matz” Nolent and artist Luc Jacamon (and further flattened by “Seven” screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker), “The Killer” is a chance for America’s most stylish director reboot, back to basics, arrive in less than two hours. I don’t even think the audience noticed. Can a movie be composed of six chapters of violence, each cut with vicious economy (by Fincher’s longtime editor, Kirk Baxter), without resorting to flowery gangster language and metaphysical meanderings?
You may find the pause in the methodical process hypnotizing. In “The Killer” you see everything Fincher does well, but in bursts. An ice cream but thawed Tilda Swinton appears in a section for the type of chessboard combat on which “Zodiac” was built. (It’s also a reminder that this director only needs a corner table, two actors, and a shot of whiskey to get sparks flying.) An abandoned WeWork office, the perfect location for a surveillance, and a joke about using comedy names as aliases. take into account the anti-corporate gloss of “Fight Club.” And an extraordinary sequence of hand-to-hand combat, Erik MesserschmidtThe camera paints in an almost abstract darkness, it is as elegant as anything in “Panic Room” either “Girl’s gone.”
Fassbender empties himself for the task, blending into the anonymity of car rental checkouts and Amazon pickup lockers. He’s just a guy on a ferry, getting rid of a body part late at night. For someone who monologues constantly, he is perversely opaque. The performance isn’t entirely AI, but there’s some kind of algorithm running in Fassbender’s head, feeding off precise movements and channeling the smoothness of Fincher’s technique into a sense of sliding, Michael Myers-like inevitability.
It’s surrounded by some of the most textured sound design of the year (the work is by Ren Klyce): the chirping of little birds on a warm French morning, the ominous hum of machinery, the high-pitched sound of a gun barrel with muffler. The synthesizer sheet music Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is very muted but, as befits this film, lacks comprehensible melodies. There is sensation here, a lot, but zero judgment.
The closest “The Killer” comes to being laugh-out-loud funny is its 11-song soundtrack by the Smiths, Fassbender’s operator’s favorite playlist. (When you press play on his phone, he says “Work Mix.”) Jangly and moody, punctuated by some of singer Morrissey’s choicest meows, the indie-pop numbers rarely get a chance to flourish uninterrupted, but punctuate the flow of the action in bursts, like tracks. God knows what I am miserable now? It may be so. Or maybe it’s just a Tuesday. Fincher, on the other hand, is having the time of his life.
Classification: R, for strong violence, language and brief sexuality.
Execution time: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Playing: Now on Netflix; also in limited release until Tuesday. twenty-one
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