by Victoria Alexander
WARNING: Spoilers Ahead
Pure provocative tension. Nothing but stress-producing filmmaking. Fincher’s masterful triumphant is one of the year’s best films. No sign of pink, philosophical regrets, mean white men or a conflicted sex life.
The Killer (Michael Fassbender) is a highly skilled, rich assassin. It’s an isolated profession, so we hear his thoughts throughout the film. He has no friends or colleagues. He quotes somebody, he can’t remember who - well, we know exactly the man whose life philosophy The Killer is following: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” *
We are introduced to The Killer as he spends his days watching the entrance of a 5-star Paris hotel waiting for his VIP victim. His professionalism demands he conquer the boredom of the job. The Killer studies every movement outside the hotel from an abandoned warehouse. He practices yoga and muses on the statistics of human mortality. His actions will not even make a mark on the numbers. With 8.1 billion people on the planet right now, how can one death make an impact?
As Josef Stalin reportedly said: “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.”
The Killer’s philosophy demands no sentimentality. He keeps reminding himself to keep focus on the task at hand. Do not improvise. Do not get distracted. Do not wear fancy clothes or look sexy. Be ordinary.
Unlike other movie hitmen, The Killer maintains an aura as an indiscernible nobody. He eats a McDonald’s lunch outside the hotel. He removes the bun! He keeps fit maintaining that lean, long-legged physique that his profession demands. Be ready to run fast. Say as little as possible, make no impression.
The VIP, The Target (Endee Hules), arrives and The Killer prepares a monstrous machine gun to end his job. But he misses and shoots The Dominatrix (Monique Ganderton) instead.
The Killer has another infamous lone assassin as his guru. He asks: “What Would John Wilkes Booth Do?”
Well, Booth, who successfully assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre, had something The Killer does not have: a co-conspirator, David Herold. After the killing, Booth escaped. Meeting up, the two men spend the next twelve days on the run and covered over ninety miles ending up hiding in the tobacco barn. Told where the fugitives were hiding, soldiers surrounded the barn and demanded their surrender. Booth requested the chance to have a shootout with the soldiers, which they denied. Herold surrendered and Booth called him a coward. Despite orders not to kill the Lincoln’s assassin, Booth was shot in the neck and died soon after.
This is not the type of job that one slips up on. There are no second chances. Now, The Client (Arliss Howard) is furious, but it is the men who arranged the contract that must eliminate The Killer. We are now in The Killer’s pocket, watching the highly specialized strategies of his profession. He knows he is the target.
The Killer travels economy class, using a shocking supply of fake passports and credit cards. He has six storage units in the U.S. each filled with an arsenal of weapons. He immediately leaves Paris for his remote villa in the Dominican Republic where he finds that his live-in girlfriend has been brutally assaulted. She bravely told the two assassins who came for The Killer nothing.
Now The Killer goes to New Orleans, Florida, New York and Chicago to settle the problem of revenge.
We see The Killer’s skill methodically setting up his victims. First is a visit to The Lawyer (Charles Parnell) who brought him into the work. The Lawyer’s assistant Dolores (Kerry O’Malley) gives up the names of the two assassins who hurt his girlfriend. Finding one man, the Brute (Sala Baker), they go through a massive, ugly bare-knuckle fight. This fight actually looks like it was not highly choreographed – that is how fantastic and messy it is.
The Brute’s bulldog takes a special mention here.
The Brute’s bulldog takes a special mention here. There is only one assassin left called “The Expert” (Tilda Swinton). There is a fantastic scene between Fassbender and the great Swinton.
Unlike other movie hitmen, spies and assassins, The Killer has to shop at hardware stores, gun shopping at the back-of-SUV, and rental car and airline counters. Plane rides take time and renting cars, setting GPS, and cheap clothes are all part of this assassin's daily, mundane routine. Nothing miraculous happens. The Killer has to wait in line like all the rest of us.
This Killer does not have a tuxedo. He has no rules he must follow according to his Roma tribe. The Killer even buys a key-fob copier device from Amazon and picks it up at one of their remote location containers. It’s clever product placement!
There is one objective left: THE CLIENT. And what The Killer does ends the film with a strange, unlikely twist.
Directed by David Fincher and with a screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker, Alexis Nolent and Luc Jacamon. Here Fincher returns to the glorious work he has done in FIGHT CLUB, SE7EN and THE GAME.
Fassbender is phenomenal. And with a stoic demeanor, he is still able here to telegraph emotion. It is not a robotic performance. I have been a huge fan of Fassbender’s. I loved HAYWIRE, THE COUNSELOR. ALIEN: COVENANT, PROMETHEUS, SHAME, A DANGEROUS METHOD, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and HUNGER. He can do no wrong.
THE KILLER is a film to see in a theater and again on Netflix.
The ALL is Mind; The Universe is Mental.”
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