“It’s amazing how physically exhausting it can be to do nothing. If you are unable to endure boredom, this work is not for you.” This is the opening dialogue of the 2023 film “The Killer” and it’s almost like the second sentence is a warning from director David Fincher to the viewers about the movie too. I rarely sleep before 2 am, and “The Killer” had me yawning by 11 pm.
The plot follows a contract killer (Michael Fassbender) who botches up a job for a billionaire client; consequently, two killers is dispatched to eliminate him, but they brutally assault his girlfriend instead. So, the primary killer embarks on a worldwide manhunt to kill those who attempted to kill him. It’s a familiar revenge story, served with philosophical musings that will seem exceedingly stale to those used to consuming literary works. The protagonist is your typical cold-blooded murderer, willing to take on any job as long as the money is right. “Trust no one” and “Forbid empathy” are among some of the mantras the killer constantly repeats to himself.
If it weren’t for the allure of a David Fincher film (with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Fight Club” being some of my favorite movies) and the star power of actors like Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton, most viewers might not even be enticed to watch “The Killer” at all. It feels like a Michael Fassbender showreel, because the actor pulls of the part of being a cold, methodical killer with no moral scruples with perfection, but the character itself has no significant allure. The cinematography and the throbbing gritty music that plays through the runtime are the two ingredients that make this film watchable. The camera follows Fassbender’s character in a way that makes you feel like he is being stalked by someone, which adds an intriguing unsettling tone to some scenes.
With a 2-hour runtime, “The Killer” is awfully slow in the first twenty minutes, a deliberate choice to capture the tedium of being a predator patiently waiting for its prey. Even after the first act is over and there’s more action in the tale, the pace remains sluggish, lacking enough emotion, action, blood, or anything to keep you wholly invested in the story. Some viewers might like the slow, repetitive nature of this film, but it was pretty underwhelming for me.
Rating: 5 on 10. You can stream “The Killer” on Netflix.
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