The Killer by David Fincher [8/10]

Fans of “noir” will, I hazard a guess, have varying interpretations on what this specialized genre (as distinct from a general label indicating “hardboiled” or “tough”) strictly comprises but no one would doubt that David Fincher’s new, focussed film, The Killer, starring a perfectly cast Michael Fassbender, is as noir as it gets. Intimately fixated in the gaze and mind of a longtime professional assassin, full of voiceovers of his rules of life and conduct, from the opening scene when our killer is waiting for his mark to arrive in a Paris apartment, we are aware all normal constraints of morality are out the window. The assassin’s philosophy is plainly practical and void of humanity, and, as is customary for this genre, the fascination lies in observing such a sociopath operating, in using such a sociopath as a lens to explore notions of good and evil. The film’s plot conceit is simple and classical: after a botched job, killers come from our killer and our killer embarks on a patient, unstoppable vendetta. Fincher is superb with long action scenes, fascinating in their vulgar expression of killing modes, and Fassbender plays the part to perfection. The notion of a disintegrating personality, also de rigeur for noir, is played with, but without any real sense of plotting purposefulness, and the end of the film can feel inconclusive, but like all noir fans, I watched The Killer for the uneasy, troubling vibe (coupled with thriller-level antics) and found it to be riveting.

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