Democracy may have gotten us this far, but the court of public opinion has never been infallible. People get things wrong. Citizen Kane didn’t win best picture Harry Potter rejected dozens of times and some people like to eat mushrooms (no thanks!).
This brings me to The Killer, another case of misguided public opinion that just came off Netflix after a movie series. Yes, it’s popular, it’s #1 on the Netflix global charts, but it’s not loved, and I think that’s inexcusable. This movie has a measly 61% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and I’m here to fight for it and see David Fincher’s latest film get the cult it deserves. In fact, I’d argue that the 86% review score is a little low.
Michael Fassbender is superb as a nameless assassin whose commitment to the process borders on ritual. What’s amazing is that you can barely hear him speak, at least out loud. His voice reveals a very cynical and introspective character with a dark sense of humor. Oh, and he loves The Smiths, using their music to ground him and lower his heart rate (to ensure the shot would be true). I never thought I should listen How soon is now? while in sniper position but it works perfectly.
Aside from Tom Hanks’ The Terminal, this might also be the movie with the most airport scenes ever. The Killer has more aliases and passports than Jason Bourne, but none of them are particularly exciting. And that’s the point. He is a professional. But now trying to cover and recover from a hit that goes sideways that gets personal, there’s no set playbook. This is an old-fashioned revenge story, and all of his interactions with targets end one-way.
That’s not to say there isn’t drama, but in stark contrast to Fincher’s Fight club, none of these matches are for show. It is cold, efficient and brutal. One scene in particular juxtaposes a nearby quadrant (the most desperate in the film) with a TV playing a gardening show (starring Fiona Bruce funnily enough), showing how quickly things can escalate.
In a world where so many action movies are obsessed with a wink and a clear eye, the coldness of The murderer, and its unique affections make it stand out from the crowd. If that’s not enough, then how about the most outstanding collection of Hawaiian shirts on film ever? I thought so.
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