The Killer   David Fincher (USA-netflix; 2023)

The Killer   David Fincher (USA-netflix; 2023)

The Killer   David Fincher (USA-netflix; 2023) Michael Fassbender

viewed Tyneside Cinema 6 Nov 2023; ticket price: £12-25

Never give a sucker an even break.

Fincher’s film is so derivative so formulaic it felt like it had been written by AI and I’m meaning; artificial idiot.

For some reason which I never fathomed David Fincher’s ‘The Killer’ opens with a montage comprising a series of distorted supersaturated coloursome shots. Perhaps it was to demonstrate Fincher’s artistic sensibility, or perhaps his eponymous killer is experiencing these images whilst on drugs. The sequence finally cuts to what may be point of view shots as the killer stakes out the action around the apartment where his would be victim has an appointment with fate, that turns out as not to be shot in the head by the killer. After this opening the film resolves into a replay of Zimmerman’s ‘Day of the Jackal’ cross braced with revenge cycle post coitum charade which comprises a series of the usual conventional tropes, spectacles of death foretold, carried out with predictable psychopathic efficiency and nastiness. Presumably in the hope of getting the boys in the seats shouting “Daddy!”


Because this is a reprise of ‘Jackal’ it is the details that are of prime importance to the scenario. A large portion of the film is surrendered to recording the meticulous planning apparently necessary to the art of killing, the minutiae of the business of being an assassin both as a hired gun and for the second part of the movie on his own account.  As we have seen it all before, the lock ups, the appropriation of everyday objects for purposes other than those for which they were made. This is of course mechanical ‘mindless’ stuff, allowing the script to default to a detached amoralism. It has the bonus of being both undemanding and of course and easy and cheap to shoot. It’s main purpose seems to be to bulk out the film so that its can spread over 2 hours of a Netflix schedule. Because of course what they are really selling is: wallpaper time.

The script is dominated by the killer’s voice over. This is a voice over of voice overs. In the cinema it boomed through the surround sound speakers. It was the voice of moral certitude, not be questioned. It reminded me of the voice of God in Cecil B DeMille’s ‘The Ten Commandments’. Issuing from a burning bush on Mt Sinai, God calls out to Moses the commandments that are to be given to the Children of Israel.

Even so that ‘the killer’ like Moses has rules, albeit rules to advance turpitude not salvation.

I lost count of the number of times Fincher’s scenario repeated the peroration of these five rules. It was if their banality was such that they could only achieve force of purpose and or acceptance through the device of re-iteration. The repetition serves a number of uses. It works as a sort of mantra.  It’s a quasi hypnotic device dulling the mind of the viewer working against any possible realisation of the emptyness of the killer’s slogans: an intellectual and moral vacuity. Of course Orwell in 1984 understood that the endless repetition of banal propositions (such as employed by Hitler and Stalin) force feeds the unfortunate listeners into an accepting and quiescent consciousness. These rules with their admonitions about empathy and improvisation are coupled up in the script with the generalised philosophical pap that Hollywood likes mouthed by its leading men.   Long done are the days when it was left to comedians such a W C Fields to celebrate street wiseacring with his: Never give a sucker an even break. A dictum in relation to its audiences Hollywood long ago took to its heart.

“The Killer’ increasingly looks like the future of the film industry. The death of cinema and the arrival of home entertainment. There is a drip feed of second rate and/or derivative productions feeding through the cinemas en route to the streaming channels from where the MONEY originates and where they belong. Thius of course exploits the Cinema is as a beauty parade for promoting any film on its way to the plus one of the usual suspects among the cabal of reviewers can normally be relied upon to describe any given movie as: “Best of the year!”

adrin neatrour





Author: Star & Shadow

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