A few years later the reconstruction of Classical Hollywood staged with Mank, still up there among the best Hollywood films of the decade along with the more recent and daring Blonde and Oppenheimer (here our review of Oppenheimer), the great director David Fincher returns to collaboration with on-demand streaming platform Netflix (and especially with screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, whom he reunites with from the epochal investigative thriller Seven) for his new film, The Killer, which premiered at the last Festival in Venice and arrives on the service tomorrow, Nov. 10.
Starring Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton, among others, The Killer is the film adaptation of the French graphic novel of the same name written by Alexis Nolent (a.k.a Matz) and illustrated by Luc Jacamon. An unsuspected auteur cinecomic (as can be for example Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Vie d’Adèle and A History of Violence by David Cronenberg) which tells the story of a mysterious hired assassin, a nameless entity with a thousand interchangeable identities, an inflexible and above all infallible calculating professional, who suddenly, on a Parisian night like so many others, finds himself facing the biggest opponent of his unblemished career: the unexpected.
Confronted with the consequences of making mistakes in a world that does not admit them, will find himself at the center of the paradox of having to deal with a personal situation, he who has always acted by leaving the private sphere far away from the professional one: there is a conscience, underneath, a moral, or are ‘the rules of the game’ – which are his mantra – are the only law to be followed?
The Killer: David Fincher sharper than ever.
As one of the glacial Jean Pierre Melville’s neo-noir all pictures and long silences – whose cinema evidently inspired the tones of this new Fincher, from the long opening sequence set in Paris to the tracing on Michael Fassbender of the enigmatic and icy protagonist a la Alain Delon de Le Samourai (the comic book that inspired the film is also French) – The Killer is a meticulous and lapidary work, interested not so much in the action as in its organization, in the interpunctures that lie between the starting stage A and the goal of arrival B: all that there may be in the preparation hidden behind the usual scenes to which thriller cinema has accustomed us.
For once on the opposite side from the light side of the law – he who three times hunted down serial killers on film with Seven, Zodiac e Millennium and who on Netflix even chronicled the birth of criminal profiling in the FBI with the ever lauded and never to be forgotten TV show Mindhunter – Fincher sets himself the challenge of trying to reach an almost superhuman subject who in turn (non)lives in a constant attempt to move his every step under the banner of the highest possible degree of perfection.
It is, of course, a reflective play on cinema and a self-analysis that Fincher, a zealous and meticulous auteur par excellence, rigorous in his method and in the enactment of his own vision, implements with respect to his own method. Changes of register in the direction of The Killer – essentially two in as many concussive phases: the protagonist’s return home, with the use of steadycam on shoulder to increase the adrenaline pumped by fear, and the sensational fight scene in a lower Florida hovel, probably 2023’s most muscular action scene – are derailments that Fincher imposes on his film and its protagonist in order to challenge them and himself, to see if he will be able to resume the control of the movie system set up to that point. And of course he succeeds, because he is David Fincher.