One of the most frustrating actors of our time is without question Michael Fassbender. However, he is frustrating for reasons you may not expect. Fassbender is frustrating because he is one of the greatest actors currently working, and yet, he is consistently involved in films that are either mediocre or flat-out terrible.
In 2017, he starred in Tomas Alfredson’s awful “The Snowman” and Ridley Scott’s forgettable “Alien: Covenant.” This isn’t to say that Fassbender hasn’t been in good films, because he most certainly has. He was an actor in three tremendous films directed by Steve McQueen. Those films are “Hunger” (2008), “Shame” (2011) and “12 Years a Slave” (2013).
Fassbender should already have a career that is on the level of Leonardo DiCaprio’s or Brad Pitt’s, but he unfortunately doesn't. Perhaps he just has a really bad agent. However, recently, Fassbender acted in a new film directed by David Fincher titled “The Killer” (2023). Spoiler alert: he’s utterly fantastic in the film and Fincher has become my new “drug director.”
Fincher is a filmmaker who is like a literal drug to me. At any time of any given day, I can stop what I am doing and watch Fincher’s entire filmography in one sitting. Not even directors I like more than Fincher have had that same effect on me. His films are so addicting that I couldn’t tell you how excited I was when “The Killer” was announced.
“The Killer” is based on a series of graphic novels written by French author Alexis Nolent, a.k.a. Matz, and drawn by artist Luc Jacamon. The film follows the story of an unnamed assassin, the titular “Killer” played by Fassbender, as he embarks on an international dispute after a hit goes wrong. The film is told in six chapters that are a part of one full story.
My personal favorite chapter has to be the very first, during which we see The Killer staking out a Parisian hotel room. He is sitting in a chair by himself with a coat serving as a blanket staring out of a window at the hotel. He begins narrating and that’s when my inner Fincher fanboy came out.
Sometimes narration can be a cheap trick used by filmmakers whenever they forget to include crucial plot details and try to incorporate them during post-production. However, Fincher is a pro at including the use of narration in his films. “Fight Club” (1999) proves that.
What is interesting about the narration is that the audience receives some details on The Killer and who he is as a person. The Killer talks about his profession and the routine and even boring nature of it. He also stresses how a lack of empathy is a requirement for choosing to do such a job. Through visual storytelling, we see that The Killer keeps himself in peak physical shape by eating a lot of protein-rich foods and doing yoga exercises.
The Killer also comments about how he listens to music because it is a “useful distraction.” The band he listens to the most is The Smiths, and he listens to their song “How Soon Is Now?” when he is about to take out the target. The target is an unnamed man who appears to be wearing a silver robe and had arrived at the hotel with the company of a dominatrix.
This is my favorite scene in the entire film. It’s a scene that shows the value of good editing, sharp cinematography and an effective use of a little-known song. It’s simply terrific.
I really don’t want to spoil anything else that happens in the film because “The Killer” is a film you should watch with zero expectations. Don’t even watch the trailer.
Fassbender is both cold and calculated as The Killer. He is the best actor to play this type of character. He looks like a regular guy you would see in your neighborhood and an emotionless assassin. Fassbender expertly pulls off the contrast, which makes the audience believe that this is how actual assassins think, behave, operate and live their day-to-day lives.
“The Killer” is one of the best movies streaming on Netflix. It has so much more to offer than what I have discussed. It’s effective with its lead actor, cinematography, editing and overall direction from David Fincher. Anyone who watches it won’t feel unsatisfied.