Starring: Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Arliss Howard and Kerry O’Malley
Runtime: 118 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2023
Reviewer: Peter W Sheehan
The American action-thriller rigorously examines the craft of a professional hitman, who thinks and behaves, as if murder is never personal to him.
This action thriller is directed from a screenplay by Andrew Walker, and is based on a French graphic novel series of the same name by Alexis Nolent. The movie premiered at the 2023 Venice Film Festival and was given a special mention. The film focuses on a hitman who gets caught in an international manhunt after one of his ‘hits’ goes wrong. Filming took place in Chicago, US, and roams to other countries to become a globe-trotting thriller, with multiple assassins on The Killer’s hit-trail.
Fassbender is perfectly suited to the role of ‘The Killer’ (his character is never named in the film). He brings the same studied resolve that he brought so convincingly to the part of the compulsive sex addict in Shame (2011), and to the character he played in 12 Years A Slave (2012). His conviction, coldness and focus in this film are mesmerising.
The Killer has a strong philosophical bent. He takes time to kill, and he comments voyeuristically on what he is doing and what he is seeing and thinking. The Killer takes care not to show any sign of what he might be feeling. The result is something of a hypnotic thriller.
On a job to kill his target in a Paris hotel, The Killer finds himself on the run after the bullet from his gun misses his target, and kills a prostitute instead.
When he fails to kill his victim, those who commissioned him want to kill him, which means he has to get to them first. The film is divided into chapters where The Killer pursues lawyers and other assassins across the US and beyond, and the film goes into painstaking detail as The Killer routinely debates the logistics of what he is doing. All the time, Fassbender plays a malevolent assassin, who has no remorse for his victims. People who cross The Killer’s path have a high probability of being murdered. Fassbender moodily narrates the movie to reveal to the viewer dark and sinister thoughts, which are perfectly matched to Tilda Swinton’s ‘The Expert’, who becomes his prey.
There is impressive stunt work in the movie, but its force resides in the introspective narration and action. This is a film about an unforgiving assassin, and it is a masterfully crafted revenge thriller. It is a thriller film that won’t be to everyone’s taste, because of its unnerving realism and moral anonymity, but it is moody, stylish and directed with flair.
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