Assassin (2023) by David Fincher

Expected with great curiosity not only by David Fincher fans, The Killer significantly – and unexpectedly – disappoints expectations: by telling the story of a hitman with the face of Michael Fassbender, Fincher actually sets up a film about cold revenge, devoid of pushes and evolution (character and subject) worthy of the name . Let’s hope that this is not the beginning of a creative involution for the director. At competitions in Venice 80.

Killer Frost

David Fincher’s collaboration with Netflix, which began with the series mind hunter AND Love, death and robotsand then teamed up with a feature film three years ago Munkresuming now, it’s been talked about a lot Murderer, which premiered in competition at the 80th Venice Film Festival. A feature film that also marks the director’s return to a more prominent action and thriller atmosphere after the biographical digression – the result of a project that actually spans over a decade – of the previous film; the starting point in this case is the 1998 French graphic novel of the same name by Alex Nolan and Luc Jacamon, a variation on a hitman in crisis so archetypal that it remains virtually nameless throughout the novel. story. Based on a screenplay written by Andrew Kevin Walker, Fincher chooses a chapter structure for the film—one for each city in which the action takes place—that begins with the first mistake in the career of the hitman he plays. Michael Fassbender; after missing his target (a wealthy Parisian businessman), he finds himself being pursued by his own employers, who seriously injure his partner while trying to get to him. At this point, it is easy to imagine that hunters and prey will switch roles.

Packing and unfolding

Killer, Michael Fassbender in a scene from a film by David Fincher
Killer, Michael Fassbender in a scene from a film by David Fincher

Strange as it may seem, since the work of a director accustomed to rather complex narrative constructions – even when it comes to more traditional plots – but the deployment Murderer reduces to a good approximation to what we wrote above. In fact, the film’s set-up is typically Fincherian – with beautiful photographs by Eric Messerschmidt, already with the director in Munkand hyper-realistic night lights framing the protagonist’s impassive face – what an unusually linear narrative translated into a revenge film that follows exactly the expected path, without any shocks. A choice in the name of linearity and materiality (probably borrowed primarily from a literary source), which, however, also becomes an exposure of the characters and a brief description of their characters, including the protagonist: if the accompanying voice-over story from the very beginning, in fact, is somewhat while transporting us into the mind and thoughts of the killer played by Fassbender, the goal seems to be to reiterate – and underline several times, even in a somewhat redundant way – his philosophy, rather than describe the actual storyline. This anti-hero’s revenge essentially takes place with no real evolution, either psychological or narrative.

Simplicity or simplification?

This choice in the name of extreme linearity (and simplicity bordering on simplistic) is a bit overwhelming for fans of the director, but also for many viewers who are somewhat familiar with the genre in all its manifestations. Murdererparadoxically, this is a film that, in its own way, displaces don’t move: the Parisian chapter that opens the film, in which the character tells us about his philosophy, his approach to problems and about the mental mind that always serves the action, is already a conclusion, not an introduction: the manifest intention has been repeatedly confirmed and confirmed – albeit in different forms and places – for almost two hours of the film. The narrative steps are purely mechanical and narrative, for a film that follows a character on his mission without showing (or even suggesting) any deviation from the established path. In a story about private revenge, born out of injustice suffered by intimate affection, the absence of any hint of melodrama is surprising, but the very denial of any emotional component. Murderer this is a cold film, we would say freezing, similar in this to its main character. And, like the latter, it in no way develops or modifies this characteristic.

Minor film

Killer Michael Fassbender in a scene from the film by David Fincher
Killer Michael Fassbender in a scene from the film by David Fincher

The result is – unfortunately, given the importance of a director like Fincher and the connection we’ve always had with his cinema – a bit disappointing, aside from the predictably good packaging and, as always, mid-high production numbers. And this is not catharsis, violence Murderer, but rather simply, mechanistically and repulsively: throughout the film, we look in vain for a flicker (internal psychology of the protagonist or contained in the plot) that gives impetus to the whole, reviving a sense of mediocrity (which is not mediocrity, but inevitably approaches), which eventually permeates the whole movie. After yet another “profession” dictum given by Fassbender’s character, and listening to the nth song of Smits on headphones, Fincher and the screenwriter almost want to say (sorry for the direct speech): “Okay, we got it, now we’ll follow you further.” The problem is that the film, in fact, is all here: the same verbal confrontations between the protagonist and his enemies (including wasted Tilda Swinton) remain completely inert, and the transfer of relations with a partner, in turn, is basic and devoid of evolution. An insignificant work, therefore, for an American director who would not want to somehow mark the beginning of creative decline. We expect welcome rebuttals.


The Killer, Italian poster for a film by David Fincher



Original name: Murderer
Director: David Fincher
Country/year: USA / 2023
Duration: 113′
Type: drama, action, crime, thriller
Throw: Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Michael Fassbender, Sala Baker, Arliss Howard, Avant Strange, Kellan Rude, Kerry O’Malley, Anthony Louis, Bernard Bigott, Brandon Morales, Elisha Davis, Emiliano Pernia, Andre Hules, Joby James, Lacey Dover, Leroy Edwards III, Monique Gunderton, Rose Bianca Grew, Sophie Charlotte
Screenplay: Andrew Kevin Walker
Photo: Eric Messerschmidt
Assembly: Kirk Baxter
Music: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Director: Sheen Chaffin, William Doyle
Production house: Boom! Studios, Panic Pictures (II), Archaia Entertainment, Plan B Entertainment, Paramount Pictures
Distribution: Netflix


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Journalist and film critic. I am or have collaborated with various online and print publications including (in chronological order) L’Acchiappafilm, and Since 2018, I have been a consultant for the Stelle Diverse and Aspie Saturday Film psychoeducational reviews organized by the CuoreMenteLab center in Rome. In 2019, I founded the website Asbury Movies, of which I am the Editor and Managing Director.

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