David Fincher’s back with the lean, mean, and darkly humorous The Killer.
The one thing that critics, cineastes, and the sycophantic disciples of David Fincher often forget is just how funny his films are. As dark, cynical, and jaded as the monoliths of austere visual perfections are, they remain at points laugh-out-loud funny. Take Gone Girl, a film which is both the most Psycho-Sexual Thriller that ever did Psycho-Sexually Thrilled but also hilarious in its icy cold barbs – as we watch the biggest dolt of a Husband, aptly played by Ben Affleck, try to figure out how to get the better of his Genius Prodigy Wife played with icy cool perfection by Rosamund Pike. Their exchange in the shower, as they come to an agreement after she’s sent him through the wringer, should make you laugh.
The Killer is a methodically plotted lean piece of action filmmaking that would have pleased Jean-Pierre Melville with its clockwork-like plotting. Alternately, The Killer is a hilarious look (albeit with a huge dash of arsenic gallows wit) at workplace disharmony in the gig economy of the 2020s that would have made Billy Wilder smile ear to ear. With its monotoned constant voice-over by its Hitman protagonist (Michael Fassbender) expounding the virtues of his job as though it’s the first episode of his own podcast alternating with needle drops by The Smiths creates an elegy for the modern era. Where one wrong move can have you replaced with someone more qualified, and cheaper, at a moment’s notice.
Without more time, one cannot simply assign where this falls in Fincher’s filmography. However, those who have dismissed it are completely missing the point. The Killer like Gone Girl, Panic Room and even Seven is the director playing in a genre, twisting and contorting it to his wants. Giving us more than just an action film or a dark comedy. Or even a hybrid of the two. Something trickier and less linear than its plot would have you think.
The Killer is a muscular piece of pop filmmaking by a director who is not just flexing but having a great time obliterating the hitman subgenre with glee.