David Fincher, the director of some of the most iconic thrillers of recent decades including Fight Club and Se7en, returns with another nail-biter, titled The Killer, though it has met with mixed response from the critics.
Reviews of the film, which stars Michael Fassbender and premiered at Venice Film Festival last week, were decidedly mixed with one calling it a “terrific” five-star movie, and another labelling it a “dud”.
The Standard said, “It’s no Fight Club but David Fincher and his star pretty much pull off this tale of a hunted hit man.”
With a cast packed full of stars, an exhilarating trailer and these extremely varied reviews, the upcoming film, which is an adaptation of a Nineties French graphic novel, has cinephiles on tenterhooks. Here’s everything there is to know about the film, before its October release.
The trailer for The Killer landed last week, getting fans excited for another absolute scorcher from Fincher.
It begins with Fassbender’s character walking down a street while on the phone, but seconds later, a heavy beat drops, right as he smashes his handset onto the ground. Suddenly the trailer cuts back to the assassin, this time wearing a black hoodie and gloves, and dramatically loading a gun. The games have begun.
From here, it’s just as fast-paced. A motorcycle zooms down a Paris street at night; the assassin is on a plane staring at a potential target; there’s blood splattered over a mirror. The beat gets faster as the sirens of Paris’ emergency vehicles sync with its rhythm.
“Stick to the plan, trust no one,” says the assassin over an ever-changing montage of guns, fights, Fassbender’s face and more guns. “Stick to the plan. Forbid empathy. Stick to the plan. Anticipate, don’t improvise.”
Movie fans have been moved by the trailer’s release: “Had me at ‘David Fincher’,” commented one excited fan underneath the clip. “This is a real trailer. Mysterious and vague but still grabs your attention,” said another.
Based on the 1998 French comic book by writer Matz and artist Luc Jacamon, it has been written by Andrew Kevin Walker, who penned the screenplays for Se7en, Sleepy Hollow (1999), Windfall (2022).
“It is about the methodology of that world which David details better than anyone,” said Netflix Films’ chairman, Scott Stuber to Variety. “He’s so good in the detail of method… of watching something unfold. It’s a really fun, big movie in the hands of one of the best filmmakers.”
Fincher, the acclaimed director of The Game (1997), Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and Gone Girl (2014), is known for his slick and heavy-hitting thrillers, and The Killer promises to be no different.
The 61-year-old American filmmaker made his name with thriller Se7en in 1995, which told the story of a serial killer whose murders are inspired by the seven deadly sins. Brad Pitt starred as homicide detective David Mills, Morgan Freeman played police officer William Somerset, Gwyneth Paltrow was David’s wife Tracy and Kevin Spacey played serial killer John Doe. Gruesome, unpleasant and transfixing, the film instantly marked Fincher out as one of the most interesting directors working in Hollywood.
Speaking about The Killer at the Venice Film Festival on Sunday, Fincher spoke about Fassbender’s character: “Sympathy was the last thing on my mind as it relates to this character. He didn’t need to be frightening. You know, the banality of evil. My hope is that someone will see this film and get very nervous about the person behind them in line at Home Depot.”
Tilda Swinton, Arliss Howard (Mank), Charles Parnell (The Last Ship) and Sala Baker (The Lord of the Rings), feature in the film alongside Fassbender.
The film has been pulling in mixed reviews: the Standard gave it three stars, saying: “Fassbender is worryingly convincing as an assassin... This is an accomplished and entertaining thriller.” But it added: “Perhaps one of the issues lies in the fact that it’s hard to root for someone who is such a successful murderer (despite our love of baddies such as Tony Soprano et al). But that doesn’t stop Fincher from trying, and – like the pros they are – he and Michael Fassbender just about pull it off.”
The Independent also gave a three-star review, saying, “David Fincher’s slick thriller doesn’t offer anything new”; meanwhile Vanity Fair said Fincher, “misses his shot with The Killer.”
Other reviewers were more enthralled by the American director’s latest project. The Telegraph gave The Killer four-stars, calling it “a sleek thrill” and The Guardian absolutely loved the film, giving it five-stars: “This is a thriller of pure surface and style and managed with terrific flair and Fassbender’s careworn, inscrutable face is just right for it,” it said.
The Killer will be released in select cinemas on October 27, before landing on Netflix on November 10.
The Killer arrives to Netflix on November 10