The Killer Review


Rating: 3.5/5


David Fincher has been playing his hand at Netflix recently, where his films have been met with interesting reception. This film returns to his introspective character study where narration carries the story. We encounter a nameless killer, who’s identity and backstory remain a mystery. He breaks down his ideology on humanity and the reason he is a paid assassin. But when one of his hits goes wrong, he must track down those involved in the mishap and flee from his employer who is trying to cover up the mess.


“The Killer” manages to highlight much of what I like about David Fincher’s films. The atmosphere is broody and quiet, allowing us to examine our central character like a fly on the wall. We slowly watch our killer examine his targets after methodical preparation and inhuman patience. Films like this remind me of old school thrillers that let the viewer soak up every moment of the story being told. We aren’t rushed to understand his motivations or why his employer wants said target dead. The ambiguous nature of the film’s characters and motivations help the viewer ponder questions as they observe the events that unfold. Sometimes spelling everything out hurts a film, a mistake “The Killer” avoids.

As much of the film centers around one person, it hinders on Michael Fassbender’s ability to craft a character that is interesting yet subdued. He does this by creating a persona that is mysterious and driven. His emotionless persona is intriguing at first, but as the film unfolds…we see he is merely a human fully capable of mistakes like everyone else. Our killer is forced to adapt throughout the film in order to complete his mission, pivoting left and right in order to survive. I enjoyed seeing how his unique skillset was put to such a difficult task.

Fincher has a knack for creating tension. While most of the film carries a slow burn demeanor, the tension we see when the killer is lining up his targets or hiding in the shadows really captures the viewers attention. There were numerous sequences where I’d be observing from the sideline waiting to see how the event would unfold. But there is one action sequence that is absolutely phenomenal. It combines the best elements of “John Wick” and “Mission: Impossible” to create a fight that is exhausting in the best way possible.


The biggest problem with the film isn’t a lack of quality, but perhaps a sense of purpose. I can confidently say that “The Killer” isn’t anything new from Fincher. We’ve seen the wonderfully crafted action sequences, tense psychological examination of broken characters, and a plot that keeps viewers guessing. Unfortunately, this one felt like a low stakes outing as the material is stale and repetitive. I’ve seen this all done before in another movie that felt more important.

The low stakes of the film grew as the film went on. The more I learned about our killer the more I felt that his character isn’t up to standard for a Fincher movie. Many of the characters from his other movies are staples of the genre. Our killer doesn’t join the ranks of John Doe, Tyler Durden, Benjamin Button, Amy Dunne, or any of his other amazing characters. His mission and persona simply doesn’t feel as memorable. There isn’t much wrong with “The Killer” at all, but perhaps the film will get lost in translation over time. I will point out that the pacing is sluggish and becomes a bear to get through towards the latter half of the film. The ending also felt like a whimper to a high stakes mission. It didn’t have the profound twist or shock that most of Fincher’s movies have. Oh well, not everything can be top tier.


“The Killer” is a perfectly serviceable Netflix movie that should do the job for those seeking a stylish heist style thriller. Although the stakes feel somewhat low, the main character is interesting enough to follow throughout the journey. Some sluggish pacing also comes into play by the third act. But Fincher fans should rejoice in another film added to his legacy. Don’t expect this to be the best of the genre, but it is serviceable enough on a free night.