Watch The Killer on Netflix // Buy the graphic novel (link provided)
Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker (screenplay), Alexis ‘Matz’ Nolent (screenplay based on “The Killer”) and Luc Jacquemon (screenplay based on “The Killer”)
Administered by: David Fincher
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell
Watch the trailer
After an unfortunate near-miss, an assassin confronts his employers and an international manhunt he insists is not personal.
There are a lot of steps to this, but the focus is on the planning that goes into the killer work. The first scene talks about the monotony of work, but it gives focus to the movie. It is very deliberate and busy on the process. It avoids exposition by showing and not telling. It uses voice overs brilliantly, not as a crutch but to deepen the character. It’s a wonderful movie.
Look at it.
It begins with a nameless killer (Michael Fassbender) on a stakeout. Through voice over he talks about boredom and his process. This is a film that focuses more on planning than execution. He tries to justify his work by showing how many people are born and die on any given day and that he has no noticeable effect on it. There is a conflict between what he does and what he tells us through narration.
|Michael Fassbender plays The Killer|
He watches his target’s home from an empty WeWork office in Paris It’s even more ironic because WeWork filed for bankruptcy the week of this movie’s release. There is a lot of voice over, but it is not used as a crutch. It provides insight into how he works and lives as well as his view of the world. We see these monotonous moments, but it’s interesting because of the nature of the work. His rules for success likewise speak to character.
The contract is not fulfilled and he is mad. We see her escape to Paris, but she thinks people have come to kill her. Yes, he’s messed up, but he offers a valuable service. It seems in this world if you do bad, they kick you out. I guess an easy concession wasn’t in the cards. This aspect seems to exist to give us a plot where an assassin must seek revenge as a precaution.
The voice over says through the killer that he’s not taking it personally, but it seems rather personal. His approach is certainly impersonal and without empathy, but he is direct. I love that one of his goals calls him out on the claim that it’s not personal, pointing out that he wouldn’t be doing these things himself if it wasn’t.
|Starring Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton The Killer, The Expert|
This movie feels much faster than two hours. This is followed by a series of missions to avenge a mistake. There isn’t much dialogue without voice overs. It does a great job of putting us inside The Killer’s head and revealing his code as his missions unfold. The fight with the beast is something else as it is the only real fight in this movie. The Killer’s extended dialogue with Tilda Swinton’s character is utterly fascinating. Most assassin movies eschew dialogue for engaging combat. This has such a different energy, and at the same time it’s interesting. That conversation speaks to its purpose.
This is such a patient and deliberate story. It focuses on the less glamorous aspects of work such as waiting and boredom. I love how it incorporates Amazon delivery lockers and Postmates into the story. While it may not be as influential as ten years down the line, it is considered provocative. Even the presence of a WeWork office and the fact that the company went bankrupt the week of the movie’s release will soon be forgotten.
That focus also underpins the movie’s main fight. We see the assassin has undertaken three missions. First she confronts her past in the form of her handler. In later missions he is physically challenged, and thereafter his claim that the gamut is not personal is challenged. This character is precise in everything he does, and this movie resonates with its focus and lean storytelling.