The Killer Review – A delightfully disturbing thriller from David Fincher

By Lori Meek
Published: November 10, 2023
The Killer Review
The Killer | Image via Netflix


Fincher’s film is more than a mindless action thriller — it’s also an uncomfortable yet detailed look into this character’s disturbed thought process.

David Fincher is known for meticulously plotted thrillers beaming with amoral characters audiences are never sure how to feel about. His most recent endeavor is no different. The Killer, based on a French graphic novel of the same name, dropped on Netflix a couple of months after impressing the critics attending the 80th Venice International Film Festival.

The Killer follows its titular protagonist, played by Michael Fassbender, on an international manhunt in the aftermath of a botched job. After the people he used to work for turn on him and make the mistake of hurting his girlfriend, the protagonist goes after them. His approach, as always, is meticulous.

The Killer review and plot summary

We meet the unnamed Killer on a job in Paris. For nearly a week, he’s been sheltering in the abandoned office building across the street from a hotel where his unsuspecting victim is expected to check in at some point. According to his voiceover, he used to book AirBnB for work, but superhosts, nanny cams, and murder for hire don’t exactly mix well. 

This paid assassin is good at what he does, partly because of his lack of empathy and partly thanks to his natural ability to stay disciplined. But there’s only so much waiting around listening to The Smiths, sleep deprivation, and cheap McDonald’s meals one can take before the boredom and sheer exhaustion lead to a mistake.  

The mistake is accidentally missing the mark and hitting the (un)lucky sex worker who was accompanying the target. In his line of work, mistakes don’t happen. But when they do, there are consequences. 

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The Killer’s narrative is your standard-issue revenge thriller a-la-John Wick but with more noir and no explosions. During the two-hour runtime, we watch this character as he interacts with (and kills) those he perceives to have wronged him, from his handler/lawyer Hodges (Charles Parnell) to fellow assassins known only as The Brute (Sala Baker) and The Expert (Tilda Swinton telling the film’s most memorable joke), to Claybourne (Arliss Howard), the client billionaire who started the whole mess. 

As predictable as it is, the movie gives audiences a glimpse into the type of life most can’t even begin to imagine. Fassbender, who came out of retirement for this role, plays the part of the broody murderer to perfection. The character doesn’t speak much, but he doesn’t have to. Even the voiceovers are repetitions of mottos he uses to keep himself on track.  

As much as the titular Killer talks about not letting things become personal, that’s exactly what the movie is about. It shows what happens when things do become personal for someone like him. 

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In theory, after the hit had gone wrong in Paris, he could use his money and the unlimited supply of fake identities based on 70s sitcom characters to start a new life in hiding. But instead, he goes on the revenge path. 

The film makes no real attempt at humanizing or portraying the Killer as anything other than the soulless monster he is. While some audience members will struggle to find common ground with the character, I think that’s the point. Fincher doesn’t want us to relate to his character.

Why you should stream The Killer on Netflix

The Killer is an excellent thriller put together by a master in the genre. While there aren’t any surprises in the plot, this is a visually stunning yet uncomfortable to-watch movie elevated by its star-studded cast. 

It would have been great for the movie to get a more widespread theatrical release, as The Killer is one of the films I regret not experiencing on the big screen. In place of the cinema, the movie is worth streaming on Netflix more than once. 

What did you think of Netflix’s The Killer? Comment below.

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