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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 20, 2023



MICHAEL FASSBENDER gained fame playing Magneto in three “X Men” films and got Oscar nominations for “12 Years a Slave” and “Steve Jobs”. 

His star dimmed after he did a series of flops like “Assassin’s Creed”, “Macbeth”, “The Snowman” and “Dark Phoenix”. 

Now, after a hiatus of four years, he’s back in a drama-thriller, “The Killer”, directed by David Fincher, best known for “Seven”, “Gone Girl”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and our fave, “The Social Network”. 

His last acclaimed film was “Mank” in 2020.

Like Fassbender, he’s now back in “The Killer”, an adaptation of a French comics novel, “The Killer”, with Fassbender playing the title role of the hired assassin who uses a lot of aliases and fake passports, but whose real name is never revealed.

The movie starts with him as the narrator, staking out in a hotel room in Paris. 

While waiting for his target to check in at a hotel room in front of his own building, he whiles the time away doing yoga and listening to the songs of the 1980s British rock band The Smiths.

We hear the thoughts in his head through his own voice over narration as he makes philosophical and cynical comments about life, luck, karma, his job and his own rules that he follows to make him good and efficient in what he does. 

He also communicates on the phone with his contact, a lawyer named Hodges (Charles Parnell) who acts as his handler. 

After a long time, his target finally arrives and he prepares his sniper rifle to shoot him across the street. 

But when he fires it, the bullet does not hit his target but the prostitute who came with the guy as she passes by in front of him.

His target’s security people quickly try to apprehend him, but he manages to escape. The movie becomes what happens to the killer after he botched up his job.

He then goes to his home in the Dominican Republic and discovers that armed men were sent to get him.

He’s not there so they beat up his Latina girlfriend instead, Magdala (Sophie Charlotte). 

He quickly deduces that his contact, Hodges, has something to do with it. From the taxi driver used by the killers in attacking his home, he learns about who they are and is determined to take revenge on them.

He then goes to Hodges to Louisiana to find out where he can find them, then he goes to Florida and New York to avenge his maimed girlfriend.

His last stop is Chicago to confront the original client, which is quite anti-climactic. 

If you’re expecting the movie to be an action-packed thriller, then you’d be in for a disappointment.

There’s only one big action scene: the killer’s violent one-on-one encounter with the muscle-packed assassin in Florida that is really well staged.

But the rest of the killing scenes are not that spectacular.  

The movie is more an intimate portrait of how the killer works.

He is a precise killing machine who does his job with chilling, merciless brutality, not empathizing at all and is so emotionally detached with what he does, clearly a sociopath.

Director Fincher tries his best to make it all very stylish in treatment and execution. But the drawback is that we don’t honestly  sympathize or really root for the main character. 

The movie is really a mere hollow vengeance flick with the killer clearly acknowledging the limits of his own life code and seriously, we don’t really give a hoot about his disdainful personal journey of detachment. 

The cinematography is done meticulously, the way the killer plots out his moves. 

But it’s all style, technique, but no feelings and not really effective or satisfying.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the fancy restaurant dinner-confrontation scene between the killer and ‘the expert, a woman assassin played by Tilda Swinton.

Their characters are birds of the same feather: they kill people for a fee. Facing them off against each other, it’s clear from their very talky interaction that Tilda is attempting to express more feelings than the killer. 

But the problem is that Tilda doesn’t really look that threatening. For this scene to work and create more heart pounding tension, it should have been shown first how Tilda operates in her own merciless way as a killer.

In the title role, Fassbender is properly emotionless as he mouths such lines as “stick to the plan”, “anticipate, don’t improvise”, “empathy is weakness”. 

After a while, it gets quite cumbersome, even if the location hops from one big city to another, and all his monotonous voice over narration becomes tedious.

We’d prefer to take the more action-oriented “John Wick” anytime. 

And we read that the budget for this film is $175 million. Gosh, where did all the money go?