Stereoactive Presents: 'The Killer' // a movie discussion

David Fincher gets meta with the story of a precisely methodical assassin who doesn't understand how his peers function.

Stereoactive Presents: 'The Killer' // a movie discussion
Michael Fassbender in 'The Killer'
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J. McVay and Charles Hinshaw discuss the latest film directed by David Fincher. The Killer stars Michael Fassbender as the meticulous hitman of the film’s title. Also in the film are Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Sala Baker, Arliss Howard, and Kerry O’Malley.

It's almost a cliche to talk about how filmmakers known as auteurs often make movies that are, in some way, seemingly about themselves. But in a year when Christopher Nolan made a film about a man whose groundbreaking work helped change the landscape of the world arguably for the worse and Wes Anderson made a film about locking a cast of characters into a tightly controlled environment in order to serve a narrative to the outside world, it's perhaps hard to dispute this sometimes does in fact happen. And now, David Fincher has made a film in which a cold, calculating professional must grapple with the resultant fallout from the failure of his usual perfectionist work ethic.

In The Killer, Michael Fassbender stars as the titular character in a performance as precise and intentional as any Fincher has ever directed. And it can hardly be a coincidence that the director chose as his perhaps-avatar an actor whose work bringing an android to life was the best parts of both 2012's Prometheus and 2017's Alien: Covenant.

The film is something of a rarity in its dedication to a mostly subjective point of view, as we experience the thoughts and actions of Fassbender's unnamed character through matter of fact voiceover, as well as sound design and cinematography that often allows us to see and hear the world through his eyes and ears. But for all the access we're given to the killer's interiority, he's still largely inscrutable in many ways. That said, what's compelling about both the character and the film are the small ways in which he reveals himself as human, by either accident or momentary surrender to circumstance. Any small moment of humanity presents as a nearly monumental display in the context of the otherwise methodical procedural the film pretends to be and, as a result, those small moments become incredibly satisfying.

The Killer is now available on Netflix.

Mentioned in the episode:
Stereoactive Presents… Fight Club and Mank

Episode Credits:

  • Producer/Host: J. McVay
  • Guests: Charles Hinshaw
  • Music: Hansdale Hsu
  • Produced by Stereoactive Media

For more information on this podcast, including where it's available, please visit the show's homepage.