Michael Fassbender starring as a hitman in a David Fincher movie that’s based on a French graphic novel really sounds like the beginnings of a terrific logline. Somewhere along the way, the script unfortunately flips on The Killer.
Based on Alexis “Matz” Nolent and artist Luc Jacamon’s 1998 graphic novel, Le Tueur, which premiered at the 80th Venice International Film Festival and is currently appearing in select movie theaters nationwide before streaming on Netflix on Nov. 10th, The Killer is a neo-noir action-thriller-turned-revenge fantasy that tells the tale of an unnamed assassin, who must tie up loose ends in order to see another day.
It’s survival of the fittest after a near-miss assassination attempt puts the life of our antihero in jeopardy, who fights his employers and himself in a psychological game of chess that takes place during an international manhunt. Naturally, it isn’t personal. It’s just something else in his life that’s necessary.
Generally, I tend to get excited whenever an obscure (or it’s unknown to me, at least) comic-book adaptation hits the big (or small) screen. For this one, I didn’t even know it was an adapted story until after watching it. Not knowing much about the source material, all I know is what I see on the screen, and that’s a doozy — or should I say it’s a drowsy experience?
For a character to eat, breathe and live the life of a hitman, whose life is in constant jeopardy, facing unknown dangers multiple times a day, always looking over his shoulder in hopes that no one actually notices him… he sure is boring. There’s a whole lot of repetition going on here in order to survive, to keep your wits despite the situation that may arise; however, there’s also a whole lot of hurry up and waiting. The downtime is killer.
Wait. Wait. Wait. Have you heard this story before?
You may have heard about method acting, but this type of tale takes method filmmaking to the nth degree!
He’s got never-ending routines. But he sure has good taste in music. In this narration-heavy story, Fassbender’s character doesn’t get to talk to too many people on screen — his main interaction is killing them. He mostly speaks directly to the audience, explaining his psyche for each and every scene he’s in. Paired with too much inactivity, well, I simply lost interest.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a terrific extended fight sequence that pushes the limits of his character’s existence, but that really wasn’t enough for me to invest my time in the character. I need more than that surface layer. If I was watching this film at home, I’d definitely switch channels to find something more interesting. And that’s a crying shame, as I’m definitely the intended audience for this type of storyline.
The entertainment options for many people may have been limited during the joint Hollywood strikes, but now that the WGA is going back to work, streaming options seem to continue unfazed (at least for the moment). Actors still aren’t allowed to promote any premiering projects, and word of this one really hasn’t spread far and wide too well. It doesn’t help that David Fincher uses an incredible amount of restraint in his story development here. In fact, it may be too subtle (something I never thought I’d say about the filmmaker).
Watching the entirety of this movie is a definite test of patience. It feels a whole lot closer to being the experimental Alien 3 Fincher than the more focused Fight Club Fincher… or even the formulaic Social Network Fincher. I definitely wasn’t expecting this and I’m assuming Netflix wasn’t, either.
I’m unsure how the limited movie-theater release experience is currently working out for the tech company, and I don’t know how much longer it can afford to continue during this era of inflation, entertainment work stoppages and limited box-office results. It isn’t difficult to figure out this won’t be the norm for all of the company’s future projects, only the prestige releases. See Also: The Irishman and Apple’s Killers of the Flower Moon.
Maybe this release strategy is a necessary evil to use in order to lure top-level filmmakers to the streamer. Maybe it’s simply a publicity write-off, in hopes of attaining gold statuettes and bragging rights. As much as I can appreciate the moviegoing experience, it really felt like a missed opportunity with this release, despite the talent involved.
Intelligence is necessary when gathering information, preparing and making fast decisions. Don’t waste your time with slow-paced stories. Take your time to make the right decision, just like our unnamed hitman. The Killer won’t make any of my end-of-year lists, but if you’re a fan of the actor, filmmaker or the original source material, you should give it a shot. Otherwise, it’s a miss for me as the intended target audience.