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‘The Killer’ Review: An Electric Thriller With A Machiavellian Lead

David Fincher’s latest outing with Netflix is horrifyingly thrilling and technically precise.

The Killer: An Electric Thriller With A Machiavellian Lead (Review)
The Killer / Image Courtesy of Netflix

The Killer excels at being an intricately crafted thriller with riveting tension through some of the best sound design and score I’ve ever heard utilized in a film. Sound designer Ren Klyce intricately crafts atmosphere meanwhile composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide a subtle and intense score. Director David Fincher’s prowess in the technical and narrative process of filmmaking is highlighted throughout the film.

The film’s anthological nature, for lack of a better word, makes the scenes from each new chapter feel distinctly different from the last, almost like it’s a series of television episodes tied together. This does work against the pacing of the film as it starts to drag in the later half and there’s no clear indication of when or how it may end, but the uncertainty and building of anticipation for what could happen next is what makes it thrilling, which is a fine compromise.

The Killer: An Electric Thriller With A Machiavellian Lead (Review)
The Killer / Image Courtesy of Netflix

Michael Fassbender executes the lead role with extreme precision and subtlety, advancing his character without leaving much time to dwell. Most of the film is “narrated” through his inner monologue which he does in a calculating and Machiavellian manner that harkens to elements of the John Wick and James Bond films.

Through the hard-faced disposition of his performance, Fassbender is still able to deliver deadpan remarks that land every single time which add a surprising comedic lift to the film. Tilda Swinton, playing an unnamed character dubbed “The Expert”, also captivates in the small amount of screen time she has, having one of the best interactions of the film with Fassbender in one particular scene.

The methodical performances from the two lend to the complexion of the story and gives it depth in the midst of all the action.

What made the film so horrifyingly thrilling and is perhaps the best aspect of the film is the sound work. The meager amount of exchanged dialogue in the film required the score and sound design to fill and create moments of emotional levity and tension which it did exceptionally well, almost to the beat and elements of horror films.

As mentioned by Fincher and Klyce in a Q&A, the entire process was done in a collaborative manner in which they expertly reimagined mundane sounds for a modern setting that contribute to the immersiveness of the film.

The Killer: An Electric Thriller With A Machiavellian Lead (Review)
The Killer / Image Courtesy of Netflix

Although not as introspective or insightful as Fincher’s usual work, The Killer achieves only what it needs to: delivering a heart pounding thriller with brilliant soundwork and compelling performances, fulfilling on its own overarching theme of sticking to the task and will undoubtedly land amongst one of the most rewatchable films in Fincher’s filmography.

The Killer is directed by David Fincher. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker, adapted from the graphic novel The Killer written by Alexis Nolent. Starring Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Arliss Howard and Kerry O’Malley.

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Artist by nature, music maker by choice, film enjoyer by force. You can always find Vincent stuck in gridlocked LA traffic.