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The Killer

The Killer (2023) -

This is a clever and darkly funny thriller in which...well, I'll steal the official plot summary since it's spot on: "after a fateful near miss, [the killer] takes on his employers and himself in an international manhunt that he insists is not personal." To elaborate, in a tense Paris opening scene that I credit for making me jump, things go south very badly. In response, the killer's employers retaliate a bit too close to home. Thus begins a personal challenge: can the killer put his professionalism on hold and respond in kind without regaining his humanity - which we learn is hardly a skill in his business - in the process?

While I am more forgiving of voiceover narration than most, I would bet than even its most die-hard haters would agree it's the movie's secret weapon. Besides how well it gets us inside the killer's brain and learn his philosophy, I like how it reveals the impact of his unfortunate situation on it. The way he repeats or rephrases his mantras, for example, made me imagine an AI trying to fight a computer virus. The blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments proving that knowing and walking the path also add nice touches. The movie is divided into chapters, with each one being as unique as it is unpredictable. That each one features a sight as welcome as Fassbender is a plus - Tilda Swinton stands out in particular - with the best compliment I can give being I wish I could have seen more of everybody. Also, like he does in Fight Club, Fincher proves his expertise at using product placement in non-promotional ways, and come to think of it, the soundtrack of Smiths song may be just as effective at character building as the narration.

Despite how well the movie lets you walk in a contract killer's shoes and all the inspired touches along the way, it does not quite achieve greatness. The main reason is that the narration, lapses in judgement, etc. are clever ways of showing the killer losing his grip, but Fincher and company's presentation makes you admire and think about them, but it barely makes you feel. Even though cold blood is a trademark of movies like this one, similar movies it recalls like Point Blank, Drive and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai prove it is possible to do both. I still recommend it, particularly for successfully making you wonder if letting cold blood run through your veins is possible in the long-term.