The Killer - The Conscience of the assassin
David Fincher's The Killer delivers the brutality and atmosphere it promised, albeit perhaps too exactly.
Execution is everything, reads the tagline for the film. An apt description, as The Killer is a movie that greatly relies on Fincher's directorial skills, on the style, to the point that meaning, story and everything else is rather secondary.
When In Bruges was released in Italy, it had added in the title "La Coscienza dell'Assassino", which translates roughly to "The Conscience of the Assassin". In a way, it is the central question that David Fincher's The Killer might be posing - very implicitly. A hitman, portrayed by Michael Fassbender, misses a shot, for the first time in his career, and finds himself on the run. In his voice overs, he presents himself as cynical, careless, meticulous. However, is it true? The narrator seems unreliable, and no glimpses are allowed in his actual thoughts. It is a subtlety that is remarkable but sadly excessively underplayed too, as almost no hint is given to allow interpretations.
The Killer also suffers from an excessively linear plot. There are no surprises, nothing entirely unseen. In its form, it is a quality Fincher film, but definitely not as insightful as other works of the filmmaker. The voice overs sometimes seem overly redundant and unessential. The opening twenty minutes of the feature are a good example: if the voice overs were not present, they would be almost entirely silent, and would achieve the intention of referencing Jean-Pierre Melville that Fincher most likely had.
That is not to say that The Killer is terrible. On the contrary, it does provide excellent entertainment, Fincher still manages to build tension flawlessly and direct some truly outstanding action scenes. It does not scream however uniqueness or novelty.
The Killer is reflective of a widespread issue in this year's Venice Film Festival competition, which sees a stagnant selection with very few exceptions. In the perspective of the festival, it is one of the better films presented, at least in the competition. It however does not stand very high in the general perspective of this year's cinema.