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The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

Cale’s Cinema Corner: “The Killer”


David Fincher is not just one of the most accomplished and most prolific directors working, but also one of the most interesting.

His career is fascinating. His early films are angsty and edgy— symptomatic of a precocious filmmaker with a chip on his shoulder. You do not make anything as accomplished, grimy and filthy as “Se7en” and “Fight Club” unless you are.

From the turn of the century onward, he proved himself to be the king of the thriller: “Zodiac,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Gone Girl.” Even “The Social Network,” a film that would have been a down-the-middle docudrama in the hands of almost any other director, is relentless and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the final frame; it is a film about Facebook.

That is the thing about Fincher: He is relentless. And he is a master filmmaker. Every shot — every item in every shot — is carefully and deliberately crafted and placed. You cannot overanalyze any of his films; there is intention in every corner of every frame of every shot.

And that is why his latest, “The Killer,” a film about, yes, a killer, is near-perfect. 

Michael Fassbender stars as the titular, unnamed assassin, and god, is he great. Before accepting the role, his acting career had been on hold for years because of his newfound hobby-turned-lifestyle: being a racecar driver. But he came out of semi-retirement to work with Fincher — yet another example of the respect the director commands from those in and around the industry.

Fassbender’s character does not have an identity. His job demands anything and everything of him. 

He is a slave to his habits. When he wakes up — on his blanket-less “cot” — he grabs his mp3 player, puts on his “work” playlist, which is essentially a Smiths greatest-hits album, and starts his stretching routine. He lives off caffeine. He rarely eats. When he does, it is some of the most unappetizing, unpleasant-looking food imaginable: an egg McMuffin — without the bun — and a single gas-station hard-boiled egg. 

He is the epitome of the soulless, inhuman hustle culture praised and glorified on the saddest, loneliest corners of the internet, which is ironic, as it is all for nothing. In the first 15 minutes of the film, he botches a hit and kills an innocent bystander. 

When his boss finds out about his deadly mistake, his only loved one, his, again, unnamed girlfriend, becomes a target. Fueled by vengeance, caffeine and cheap protein, he goes on a globetrotting revenge tour, hunting down the, one last time, unnamed person behind the curtain.

Tilda Swinton is billed as Fassbender’s costar. She only appears in one scene, but her performance might be the best “cameo” work I have seen all year. Her character serves as a foil to his. He has deprived himself of all happiness; she lives in luxury. The two’s brief conversation in a five-star restaurant is the only time he is forced to confront his attitude and mantras.

Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, longtime partners of Fincher’s, return for another hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat score. It is hard to top their work on “The Social Network,” which is one of my favorite scores of all time — for one of my favorite movies of all time. But everything they put their hands on is pitch-perfect, and the same is true here.

Fincher’s direction is as sleek, stylish and laser-focused as ever before. I regret not seeing the film for the first time in a theater, as I cannot even imagine what it looks like on the big screen. Luckily, because it was funded and produced by Netflix, I can rewatch it as often as I want from the comfort of my home. It definitely is not a Christmas movie, but that is exactly what I will be doing over the holidays.

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