The Killer

Welcome to the world of The Killer and watch as obsessive, perfectionist filmmaker David Fincher tells the story of an obsessive, perfectionist killer living out his either his worst nightmare or darkest fantasy: his life spiraling out of control after an extra ruins his perfect shot then going on a bloody rampage to get revenge against everybody who has ever wronged him. If I were one of the executives at Fox who had anything to do with Alien 3, I’d probably sleep with at least one eye open from now on. With The Killer, Fincher continues his tradition of protagonists who are weird, misanthropic, and/or emotionally detached loners, live by a very specific set of rules, and wax philosophical about humanity’s inhumanity in endless voiceover. A self-described unremarkable man who is exceptional at his job through endless, obsessive practice and meticulous attention to detail, the titular killer is perhaps the most appropriately autobiographical self-insert character that Fincher could have imagined. With murder, mayhem, and a shady underworld of secret assassins (no, not THAT world of secret assassins), and meditations on how the thin veil of civility that is society barely conceals the base instincts of the human race at bay and our most cherished ideals are all lies carefully disseminated to help the powerful exploit the masses, The Killer is sure to delight viewers of all ages. So join your intrepid hosts as we delve into the world of The Killer, explore the latest twisted entry into David Fincher’s pantheon, and try our best to avoid ending up on any hit lists of our own.

The Killer (2023)
directed by: David Fincher
starring: Michael Fassbender – Tilda Swinton – Charles Parnell – Arliss Howard – Kerry O’Malley – Sophie Charlotte
Thriller – Crime
118 min

Transcript (via Apple Podcasts)

Hi there, welcome back to The Reel Film Chronicles podcast.

As always, I’m Nathan.

And I’m Brian.

And in this week’s very exciting episode, we’re going to be taking a look at a little film called The Killer.

Very, very excited to check this movie out.

It’s a new David Fincher movie, and I think we previously established all the way back in episode whatever, when we talked about Mank, we did a whole David Fincher run through, and it was the most grueling, awful experience ever because you had to rank all of his movies.

And something had to be at the bottom, something had to be in the middle, and all of them should have just been sitting at the very, very top basically.

For clarification, the reason it was so grueling is because we love David Fincher’s work so much.

It’s hard to choose your favorites out of your favorites, right?

Your favorite, most favorite of your favorite movies.

Not because we hate David Fincher.

I think my lowest-

We’re fanboys.


Yeah, so to put it in context, we’re probably predisposed to any of his new stuff coming out.

I think, what was our lowest ranked movie?

I think my lowest ranked movie for David Fincher is maybe a three and a half or maybe a four, I think, is my lowest ranked Fincher, so it’s like-

Yeah, they’re all really good movies basically.

Fours and fives, yeah.

Do you still have your list of all of his movies ranked?

Did you put that in the letterbox or anything?

I wrote it down on a piece of paper, so I don’t think I actually have it.

It’s not digital.

It’s a weird thing to say in this day and age, I know.

Old school.

So yeah, The Killer, I think is his 12th film, if I’m looking at this correctly.

It’s his second collaboration with Netflix, and I believe there was a four movie deal between Fincher and Netflix, so we’re probably gonna get a couple more of them.

Injected into my veins.

And yeah, I mean, it was kind of nice.

This one, The Killer, had a very short theatrical run in some markets.

My little indie theater in town here managed to get it for a week, so I did go check it out on the quote unquote big screen.

It’s a lot bigger than my home screen, but a fraction of the size of the iMac screen that’s also in town.

But it was kind of nice to go out and watch Fincher again in the theater, and then two weeks later, it’s on Netflix.

It’s there for everybody to stream.

I totally forgot this movie was even coming out, to be honest, because I don’t think Netflix really advertises their movies.

Yeah, this is what gets me.

Especially with Netflix, and they’ve been struggling in terms of raising revenue.

Recently there was pricing adjustments, there were price hikes, they had a couple quarters where they didn’t hit their targets or whatever, it’s been publicized.

And you got big name directors, like David Fincher, who is a household name for a lot of cinema goers, and that’s the one you don’t hype up.

That’s where you spend your advertising money on these big ones from like Martin Scorsese a couple years ago with The Irishman, or like David Fincher, even Mank, I felt like I was anticipating Mank a lot more, there was more buzz around Mank.

There was for sure, yeah.

The Killer, there was nothing outside of, sometimes when I’d watch a film on Netflix, and like that at the end, or when you can choose to watch the end credits, or do you have the advertisements pop up and there would be like The Killers come up, but like there was no big push for this.

And like this blows my mind that, David Fincher movie is coming out, being released to little to no fanfare.

Like this is crazy to me.

It’s a state of cinema that we’re in right now.

And previously it was kind of, because we don’t talk about physical movies enough on the podcast, but like Mank has not, has it come out on Blu-ray?

Not to my knowledge or else I would have bought it.

For sure that’s an instant buy.

I was thinking about The Irishman, Scorsese of course, and Criterion, partners with Netflix to release some of their movies.

And we didn’t get that with Mank.

We didn’t get like any physical release for Mank.

There are some directors we try and buy all their movies from, and especially someone like Fincher, who we both adore, and there’s only 10 or 11 movies.

That’s a very easy mini collection to add to your physical media shelf.

And the fact that Mank has never been released on physical media is driving us crazy.

And The Killer is probably going to suffer from the same fate.

I mean, I certainly hope not.

I want to buy this movie.

I mean, it wasn’t a stinker.

I’m not going to avoid this film or anything.

So, you know, Netflix, bring it on here, guys.

Can I just say how weird it was I was going through my collection the other day as one is want to do.

And just like I’ve just pulled out The Irishman just to take a look at it.

Yeah, like the artwork and stuff.

And it’s just it’s so weird seeing the Netflix logo on a Criterion box set on the back of physical release to see Netflix on there.

It’s like that’s so weird to think that they’re, it’s a production company now as opposed to just a distribution company.

They started off as like literally distributing.

Yeah, rent as a rental company, right?

You’d rent them rent movies through the mail.

But it’s like it was really weird to see like all you see like you used to see like Universal and all the big studios.

You see Netflix on there.

It’s like this is a really weird even though talking about the release schedule where you see, oh, it’s in theaters for a couple weeks, then it’s on Netflix right away.

It’s an incredibly strange time or a transitory time for big budget movie releases.

You see like Killers of the Flower Moon, Apple Original, I think is Napoleon and Apple Original as well.


And they’re getting theatrical releases and then like a month later or sometimes less than a month later, they’re on these streaming platforms.


It’s so weird.

Even a movie like Talk to Me, I think we mentioned this before we were talking, Brian.

We saw it in streaming and then it was out of the theaters the same time here in North America.

I could buy it on Blu-ray or I could go see it in theaters at the same time.

It’s such a weird time as obviously the industry is transitioning with the advent of streaming services and they’re still trying to figure out that formula for theatrical releases, right?

It’s really interesting to watch that evolutionary happening in real time.

This is a once in a generation kind of industry shift, right?

I’m glad there are some options to get more eyes on these movies because a lot of people, they either can’t go to the theater or they don’t want to for whatever reason, so they subscribe to a service and they’re able to watch it.

It all helps movies I think in the end.

Get that visibility, yeah.

I’m sure there’s some real negatives.

We could dive into that, but you mentioned the Netflix logo on a Criterion release.

It’s also weird going to the theater and seeing the Netflix, like the splash screen come at you on the big screen.

You’re like, yeah, Netflix.

And I wanted to take a moment to call out Apple, because you’re talking about Killers of the Flower Moon, an Apple original movie.

They need a better splash screen, like a better logo screen.

I understand it’s like, oh, here’s an Apple original film.

It’s like, guys, come up with a little better name here.

Come up with a little animation or something.

I don’t know.

Just seeing that on the big screen, it wasn’t the same as Netflix.

The Netflix splash screen translates from small screen to big screen and back and forth quite easily.

The Apple one, it needs more oomph because Apple has put it out some big movies here.

Obviously, within a couple of months, a Scorsese and a Ridley Scott film in theaters, and they’re both multi-hour epics.

Let’s throw that out there, Apple.

Apple’s got to hire whoever did that splash screen opening screen for Marvel, hire those guys to do your Apple TV credits or whatever, your Apple streaming service credits.

Those are the guys you want to beef that up, right?

You know what?

I want to see the Apple logo transition in that flurry.

You remember the old Marvel one where it shoots through all the comic pages and you have to show the Marvel logo?

It’s like, I think it’s the same thing with the Apple logo, where it’s just quickly going through all the different iterations of the company.

The Spider-Verse into the Spider-Verse across the Spider-Verse, where it goes to the alternate versions of the logo.

Yeah, exactly.

Hire those guys to do your credit.

Come on, Apple.

Pay a couple extra bucks.

Make this feel like, yeah, make sure you get your brand name out there.

You know what?

With the right amount of money, I’ll go out and find those guys.

For a tiny little finder’s fee, we’re happy to partner with Apple to track down some great graphic designers for you, some visual artists.

Oh, my goodness.

You heard it here first.

If Reel Film Chronicles has put out the offer to Apple, if we end up doing this partnership.

Now, we got to talk about.


We do have to talk about The Killer and just a spoiler warning, standard fare.

We don’t hold back on spoilers halfway through the podcast.

So if you haven’t seen The Killer yet, boot up Netflix and check the movie out, come back and listen to us talk about David Fincher’s newest film.

This was something else.

Right off the bat, I’ll say it’s not for me top tier Fincher, but it’s not bottom tier either.

But as you said before, bottom tier Fincher is still three and a half stars, like on his lowest rated movie.

And we’ll find out where our ratings are near the end of the episode.

But what was your first takeaway when the credits rolled on this film?

Yeah, I really liked it, but it felt definitely like a lesser Fincher, which is to say a lesser Fincher is still, most people would strive their entire careers to direct at the same level as even a lesser Fincher film.

But yeah, something, there was just something, a certain je ne sais quoi that was lacking from the movie that I don’t know what it was, but that magic ingredients that really propels David Fincher’s really top tier movies.

I think this one was a little bit different too.

I think it was based on a graphic novel or series of graphic novels, right?

That’s right.

So maybe it was just that graphic novel sensibility and that translation to the big screen.

Maybe there’s something.

It was a little bit different for Fincher to do.

I think it was the first time he’s done a graphic novel adaptation.

Maybe it was a little bit of a disconnect between that translation between media.

Maybe that’s where it lost it for me a little bit.

I haven’t read the originals at all.

So maybe it’s a matter of like if I went and read the original graphic novel, just see to be able to compare and contrast.

It was a really, really good film.

I really enjoyed it.

We’ll get into it later, but I love the way it subverted a lot of the tropes in the Assassin.

It’s kind of the Assassin movie or the action movie tropes.

It’s interesting to see characters behaving intelligently in situations.

But yeah, I had a lot of fun with it.

Actually, for the Dark Subject Matter, it was a lot of fun.

It was very kinetic and kept moving.

Yeah, it was a great ride overall.

Without a doubt, that just felt like missing element.

I don’t know what it is.

I can’t articulate it either.

Sometimes things just happen in movies where it’s like the right time, at the right place, the right people.

This one seemed like it was lined up for it all.

It’s written by Andrew Kevin Walker, who Fincher worked with previously in Seven.

This guy has also written Sleepy Hollow, which I adore that movie.

It’s probably a bit more mixed.

This is news to me.

You never mentioned that before.

Can you hear my eye roll?

He wrote 8mm with Nick Cage back in the day.

More recently, a movie called Windfall, which I think is worth checking out if you haven’t.

Fincher is working with editor Kirk Baxter here, which he has a long-standing relationship with.

Gone Girl, Social Network, Benjamin Bunn, Mank, Dragon Tattoo.

This guy knows how to edit Fincher movies, and I think it shows even here.

Can I say there’s an entire genre of credits.

David Fincher opening credits is an entire genre of film unto itself.

The opening credits to this is like, without knowing, this is a David Fincher film.

Like, yeah, of course, of course it is.

It’s literally your first impression because the credits come on and they’re like, there’s a lot of momentum to them, and there’s a lot of imagery going on.

They’re very quick, and you’re like, oh, yeah, this guy is holding on to movie credits, like the opening credits, and I love it because a lot of, like Marvel movies have destroyed opening credits.

They move them to the end of the movie and turn them into like a mid-credit scene.

I hate it.

I love the opening credit, and I remember thinking back in the theatre to the late 90s with the movie Spawn, and it had some completely off-the-rails opening credits, and for a brief period of time, I’ve always, for the past 30 years, I’ve always thought about different websites, and there was a brief period of time where I thought, a website that just focuses on opening credits, even just like a little YouTube repository of them and having some of the best ones, because there’s some really neat ones.

There’s an art form.

Yeah, it’s an art form upon itself.

And Fincher movies have some of the best opening credits.

I mean, Fight Club at 7 immediately come to mind.

Even here, I was almost a little disappointed because the opening credits are, they were almost like too fast.

They felt really short.

It felt almost, somebody online said it and it clicked right away.

It felt like the credits to a series rather than a movie.


Like you want to get through opening credits really quick to get to the, because you have limited time and then an episode, that’s what it felt like almost like.

Oh yeah, they felt really, really short.

It’s like, oh, was this originally conceived of as a Netflix limited series or something?

And then it was like, oh, and he kept building and building.

It’s like, oh, we’ll make it a full length feature.

And like, is this what the four movie deal is?

Is it going to be like adapting more of the comics or not the comics, but the graphic novels in the series?

I don’t know.

I felt like it was something put in by like the executives of Netflix.

Cause I’ve seen that those comments before about working with these streaming services where they figure out if people watch past like the first two minutes, there’s a certain chance they’re going to like tune out.

Like they’ll just going to stop playing if nothing happens within two or three minutes of the movie.

And that’s so immediately I’m thinking, okay, those are fast credits because they had to do it within 60 seconds because they know from all these algorithms that 60 seconds people tune out.

But if you make these credits like fast pace enough, people will be like, oh, that was interesting.

Let’s continue watching for a few more minutes, right?

Which is too bad because it’s a weird thing to say, but I actually wanted more credits.


Like I was, the credits in a David Fincher movie and especially The Killer, they’re so engaging.

I want to spend more time with the credits even.


Oh, exactly, right?

There was even, I started rewatching it and I’m just like, man, I can’t, there’s not enough time for me to read the credit events, see the imagery that’s going on in the background as well because it’s like little things.

I think it was a montage of like his previous career, not his previous career, his career as an assassin that was playing out through the credits, but.

David Fincher was an assassin?

I guess we’re talking about, I’m talking about The Killer himself played by Michael Fassbender, who is an actor that I’ve always respected.

He’s done some interesting things, but he hasn’t done much lately.

In fact, this is his first movie since X-Men Dark Phoenix in 2019, where he would have played the younger Magneto.

That was Michael Fassbender’s last movie?

It seems like a long time ago.

Maybe he took a hiatus, I don’t know.

I, now that you say it, I can’t name a recent movie with Michael Fassbender.

But if anything, it’s just like, oh, he’s gonna come out for a David Fincher movie.

And as soon as I see Fincher and Fassbender together, I’d be like, all right, they must have something cooking here, right?

Oh yeah, for sure.

Also talking about the entire package, I think that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are back to do the music to the score for this movie as well, who are regular collaborators with David Fincher as well.

Even something I would count as a lesser, quote unquote, lesser Fincher, like Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, the music and that score, it stands out in my mind still, right?

How dare you put the word lesser and the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo in the same sentence?

Well, I mean, the original Swedish one was just, it was just better adaptation of the book.

I mean, I think I’ve triggered Brian.

No, that one, I have no comment.

I’ve seen the original Swedish version.

I don’t remember it very well, but I’ve seen Fincher’s version numerous times.

Fincher’s version is great as well.

It’s just like, for me, it’s like, again, I think it’s still ranked at like four, it’s like four to five stars for me.

So it’s like, I love the movie, but it’s just not the very, very best of David Fincher.

So talking about The Killer, the movie in general, I’ve seen some comments online basically saying like, this is Fincher’s real first comedy film.

A lot of people are taking it for comedy.

If anything, it’s probably more along the lines of satire.

But I think there has been a lot of humor and like dark humor throughout Fincher’s filmography.

It’s not like he’s just like this cold, like there’s humor in every, like I’m thinking of this scene from Seven.

There’s lots of funny moments in that.

It’s all dark, right?

Because the subject matter usually is pretty dark.

Gone Girl, there’s a lot of funny moments in that movie.

And this is no different for me really.

It’s just, there’s probably more of that going on here, maybe even some of the other ones.

So people are sort of latching on to that comedy feel.

But essentially what I’ve seen online is people disappointed that there wasn’t like enough assassination, there wasn’t enough action in this movie, that it wasn’t what they were expecting.

Is this, did you get what you were sort of expecting out of this movie?

Or I guess maybe better question is what were you expecting?

With David Fincher, I’ve learned, it’s better not to try to guess what he’s gonna do.


Because every time I try to guess, oh, I think he’s gonna go left and he goes right, or he goes in a completely different direction I didn’t even know existed yet.

So I went in with pretty zero expectations in terms of plot and character and everything.

So I thought that people were looking for just a drag him out, you know, like a John Wick style movie, which is like action beats, action beats, stunt man showcase, action beats.

No, this is not that kind of movie.

But there was definitely, I don’t know, like how many murders does it take to make people happy?

It’s like, this is a weird thing to think about.

It was like, there were.

Like that’s something I would think about more in a horror movie where they would literally have like a murder per minute, like average or something out of a horror film, right?

But this is not a horror movie.

This is something else.

And that’s the thing, it was all contextual.

Like all the deaths had very specific meaning, which they usually do in a David Fincher film.

You look at whether it’s Fight Club or Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or whatever it is.

Like anytime there’s a death, it’s meaningful to the plot.

It’s meaningful to character development.

You look at something like Panic Room, right?

There’s a character death and it’s like, OK, it’s not just, it’s violence, but it’s not violence for the sake of violence, right?

There’s a deeper meaning behind it.

And you look at the context of the film where this is essentially a revenge flick, right?

Yeah, kind of standard story, assassination gone wrong.

And then the assassin goes into hiding, but then he’s targeted by the secret organization he works with.

So I guess there is a touch of John Wick in there as well.

But then the killer becomes the target.

And then his loved one gets hurt in the crossfire.

And so he goes on a revenge spree.

It’s a pretty standard kind of story trope.

But it’s what you do to play around with that.

So all the kills have very specific meaning to the main character, the killer, who I don’t think is ever actually named, which I didn’t realize again until going to the credits.

He pulled a fight club on me again, even though I knew.

This is the thing.

He pulled a fight club on me.

The main character, the narrator had no name the whole movie.

And I know he does this.

And I still didn’t realize until the credits pulled up.

They didn’t mention his name one time.

A bunch of characters, I don’t think they mentioned their name.

No, like there’s basically you have like Fassbender, The Killer.

You have the expert.

That’s Tilda Swinton, the lawyer, who I think maybe does get a name.

But the other assassin, I think, is just called The Brute.

Yeah, I think if there was one thing, maybe this wasn’t as twisty as some of David Fincher’s other work in terms of like some version, like plots of versions, characters of versions.

I kind of knew as soon as like I was tense, right?

There was suspense the whole thing, but it was just like, OK, it was a pretty straightforward linear plot.

There were no really big twists in it, which doesn’t have to be crazy, crazy twists.

Like you look at something like Panic Room.

That’s not a big, really crazy twist.

I don’t think it’s pretty linear, linear plot.

But there was something, there was just a little bit something missing.

Whereas with Fincher, I expect to have the rug pulled out from under me a little bit more thoroughly maybe, or have the wall kind of pulled across my eyes a bit more and have a bit more misdirect.

But this one felt like, OK, it was good.

Killer going, get revenge.

And he got revenge against some of these people.

But it just felt like, and that was it.



There wasn’t any real extra depth to it all, I guess.

I’m not thinking about a lot of stuff outside of that, I guess, from just the straightforward plot.

And it’s kind of interesting.

There’s definitely the John Wick comparison.

And John Wick has gone full into the lore of the world of assassins that I’m kind of in on, but also not liking at the same time.

The first John Wick is great because it’s that very simple revenge story, and a revenge story can be very satisfying to watch.

And that one, you’re like, he’s doing this because his dog got killed.

Obviously, it’s a tie to his wife and everything here.

This one, his girlfriend was beat up.

She’s still alive.

And he goes on a revenge kick, right?

But it’s a very targeted, it’s just like these people are going to die for these reasons type of thing, right?

I just wish that The Killer had a bit more trouble taking some of the people out.

Like the one fight with the brute, obviously, is like a hand-to-hand combat against somebody who’s like a hundred pounds bigger than you is like, yeah, you’re kind of on the defense on that one.

But the rest of the people was like, yeah, the suspense was like when he was going to kill them, not if, right?

It was always like he had the upper hand, even though at the beginning, which I really like that whole opening monologue, even though it felt like it was jumping from topic to topic, but it felt like you were in the killer’s mind because he was trying to fight off boredom while he was scoping out his target.

That’s exactly the kind of train of thought that you’d go on if you’re sitting there trying to stay focused.

You think about this and you think about this and you think about this.

It was kind of cool.

But he talks about how he’s like, I’m not exceptional in any way.

I’m an average guy just doing my job, but what keeps me focused is, if there’s kids in the room, I do not give a fuck.

It’s like I get rid of…

He has his little rules there.

It’s like you never empathize with your targets.

Don’t only do the job you’re contracted for, et cetera, et cetera.

He’s not exceptional.

He’s an average dude who just does his job.

He’s really, really good at his job.

He follows the rules really, really well.

I would have liked to see a bit more struggles as he went through it.

So just that one big fight where he had some struggles, but everybody else comes up against like, no, I’m just going to kill them.

I was like, and he does.

I was like, okay, it was kind of cool.

It was cool, but I would have liked to see a bit more hardship on his part.

All right, well, here’s the thing.

I think each kill was a struggle for him.

I think he is this professional who is good at what he does, and he even says like, he’s not special, but he’s batting a thousand, right?

Which I think was kind of a neat way to put it.

But on the very first kill in the movie, this assassination, he screws up.

Everything he’s talking about, he screws up.

And even him talking about like getting the space and everything, midway through narration, and he’s talking about all these rules, somebody literally walks into his hideout, and they’re just like delivering the mail, right?

But it’s like, oh my God, he was not prepared for that possibility.

And one of his rules, I don’t know if he said, but you get the impression because of the heart rate monitor, he has to get down to 60 beats per minute before he pulls the trigger.

He does that and then misses his shot, right?

So it’s like he’s not perfect.

If anything, he’s…

He doesn’t really miss.

The dancer there, the dominatrix gets in the way at that exact moment.

He misses his shot because he doesn’t kill the target, right?

Which sets the entire events of the movie into motion.

So he screws up the assassination.

There are previous…


He could have taken better shots before then, but he was playing by his own rule of waiting till his heartbeat was low enough so that he wouldn’t miss the shot, and then he misses the shot.

That’s why you get a bit of that comedy.

People in the audience laughed out loud when that happened because it’s him…


talking for multiple minutes on all these things that make him perfect.


In The Brute Fight, he…

Throughout the movie, previous to that, and even during The Brute Fight, he said, anticipate, don’t improvise, right?

Yeah, I love that line.

And the exact moment he says that line, during The Brute Fight, he is tackled from behind by The Brute.

He did not anticipate that.

He screwed up again where he is improvising throughout an entire fight to the point where he’s stuck behind the thing, reaches into a drawer, to pull out a random item.

It’s like asking the audience in an improv comedy club, give me an item.

Yes, and?

And the movie gave him a cheese grater.

That was such a great moment too, yeah.

And so it’s like it’s constantly subverting his professionalism.

And I think, from what I understand, it’s like, yeah, he is really good at what he does.

Clearly, he has tons of money.

He’s well prepared, but he had one bad shot, one bad day at the office, so to speak, and sets in all these events.

And then as the movie goes on, because they go and almost kill his girlfriend, it becomes an emotional game for him.

So he starts taking more risks, and he’s not as prepared.

And I think it’s that bit of deconstruction of that assassin trope being perfect all the time that kind of works for the movie and makes the character really interesting, for me at least.

And I don’t know if you want to see something here, but the other element I saw online was Fincher himself is a perfectionist, right?

He’ll take 50 takes on certain scenes.

Notoriously, yeah.

And this is almost a self-referential element of the movie where he is the assassin in this film, right?

But he’s going to have bad moments here and there, right?

It’s just like it’s a chance to sort of poke fun at himself for being so perfect all the time, but nobody’s really perfect.

Well, I think there’s some commentary to be had, maybe some philosophical commentary about, yeah, you can plan out everything to a T, but sometimes things just happen, like things that you can’t anticipate or you can’t improvise around.

So you can be as well-organized and as meticulous as you possibly can be, but sometimes life just happens and you kind of have to figure out how to roll with it, right?

So that was interesting.

I think that was some really interesting commentary.

The other thing that kind of, there was a little bit of a twist, I guess, where it turns out that he did have a personal life and he had a girlfriend, which like all of his talk at the beginning where he was like, I don’t think he’s, I don’t know if he would fit the definition of a psychopath or even a sociopath because they’re devoid of empathy entirely, but he can clearly form relationships, right?

He has a relationship that cares about somebody.

So it’s really interesting where it was all, I think he talks about this in his opening monologue.

It’s like, it’s all purely mechanical where he’s able to disassociate himself in what he’s doing and share a note.

And like, he’s able to control his empathy in a way.

That’s a really interesting, really interesting take on it because it’s always so easy watching these movie characters like, oh, this guy’s just a pure psychopath.

And it’s easy to kind of hand wave that away.

But it’s more interesting to me to have like, well, what about a person who does have emotions and this is their line of work?

How do you compartmentalize?

How do you justify?

How do you rationalize?

That to me is more engaging.

And so when I found out he had a girlfriend that added a layer of depth, I think, to the character that you would have had otherwise.

And it’s really interesting, too, like they had their underground assassin worlds, which was, I guess, it was interesting.

It kind of makes sense.

It was started by a lawyer.

And it sounds like The Killer was initially a law student.

But then his professor or his fellow lawyer saw something in him.

It’s like, oh, we can start an assassin for hire business, but make it purely a business, right?

It was nothing personal.

He saw something in his like, oh, you’re able to compartmentalize your emotions.

You know, we can make a lot of money by, you know, murdering rich people for other rich people.

Yeah, it was a really interesting.

It’s like, oh, it was grown as a business and it wasn’t some vast underground world like John Wick.

It was kind of a more quote unquote grounded.

I’m just like, yeah, murderers for hire.

A bunch of people who were just, yeah, we’ll do this.

This is their day job, right?

This is like their day job just happens to be killing people.

Like that was a really interesting take as well.

It’s always kind of cool.

Those underground stories like, you know, there’s a secret society or secrets sect of society going on just below the surface that only a couple people know about.

That’s always engaging.

I love those kind of under underworld stories.

Well, here’s what I.

Sorry, go ahead.

Yeah, no, this one just felt it was really, really cool.

I always loved that.

It was a plus for the movie.

I think it’s just really neat is like, oh, gives that it was like a hint of world building and backstory without going off the rails and like doing a giant exposition dump.

You learn so much about the world just from a couple of brief exchanges with the, you know, the lawyer and the killer.

It’s really cool.


And what I really like about that world building and the lore here, especially you can’t stop thinking about John Wick, where it was really losing me in that series is that every single person on the street is a hardcore.

Like when they put out the call on John Wick’s head and everyone on the street is just like they all get the same text at the same time.

We like literally 40% of the world here of the population are.

There’s like fewer people in New York who aren’t assassins in John Wick world.

And in this movie, it’s really pulled back a lot where it’s like this feels very grounded.

It’s like the lawyer guy who’s sort of organizing this, we don’t get a sense of how many assassins he knows.

He may not even have them directly employed, but he’s like sort of like a contractor where he’s finding the right people for the right jobs.

And he’s just working in a nondescript building in an office.

He has a secretary and there’s not a ton of security, obviously a locked door.

And I love that method of like showing the killer, like how he gets into it.

You know, the disguises.

All the like the social hacking, right?

Yeah, just like counting how long it takes for the door to slowly close on its own.

You’re like, okay, it takes eight seconds.

So you got eight seconds to get in there when the last person goes.

I like that stuff, but there’s no extra security inside or anything.

It’s just it’s very low key operation.

So I like that it’s not like ingrained into like, you know, how the world is running exactly.

I like there weren’t any special gadgets, right?

When he goes to torch the lawyer, it’s just like he gets a nail gun from the hardware store, pays a couple of guys to go in to buy it for him with cash.

It was like always distancing himself.

I like there were no like secret trap doors and secret rooms.

When he has like he just has like a storage.

He said he’s got like storage lockers rented in, you know, ten different cities or something.

It’s like a storage locker.

It’s like he’s hiding in plain sight.

It’s like you don’t have you don’t have time or resources to build, you know, secret passages in your office building.

It’s like, of course you don’t.

And the lawyer says like, yeah, I just have everything on my two laptops in my office because like he’s running a business.

He’s not he’s not he’s thinking about in terms of business, not in terms of some grand conspiracy.

And then he goes to the lawyer’s house after he kills him and the secretary is there.

It’s just like an old style Rolodex with papers.

Yeah, it’s like nothing was her house, I think, or her house.



Also a note how like, yeah, he ties up his loose ends.

He kills the secretary in the end.

You think maybe he’s like, oh, he’s going to let her go.

But no, she was part of the whole thing.

But he does fulfill her request of like, he leaves her body to be found.

So he makes it look like an accident as your request.

So her kids have clothes.

Yeah, he breaks her neck and she falls on the stairs.

So it looks like, oh, she could have broken her neck going on the stairs.

Like, okay.

He’s like, yeah, he at least honored her request, right?

That’s where you understand like he’s on an emotional revenge quest here where if this was a contract, like he would be much colder and just like that’s where he can separate himself, but he can’t separate himself entirely from this little quest.

It’s interesting where he draws the line.

He kills the cab driver who drove the two assassins, but he doesn’t kill the owner of the cab company, right?

Just like at the end, spoiler alert, he kills all the assassins and the lawyer, but he doesn’t kill the billionaire who put the contract out in the first place because the billionaire was just, he didn’t realize when he said, when he paid for the extra cleanup service, right?

When things went south, that cleanup meant killing the killer.

So he looked in his eyes, he’s like, okay, this guy is just, he’s ignorant.

He’s just like a spoiled rich guy, throwing money around and not really knowing what he’s doing.

So he lets him live.

But probably with the worst punishment of all, because he’s like, look how easy I got into your apartment with all your billionaire, with all these complex security systems.

I got in super easily and it’s like, I can do this again.

If I see somebody else on my trail, I’m going to assume it’s you, and I’m going to come back.

I can kill you, but he’s probably like that billionaire is probably going to die.

Go to his grave every single day living with that paranoia.

He’s probably going to develop an ulcer.

There’s like terrible torture.

But all the hacks he does, it’s not some crazy thing.

It’s like he’s going on Amazon to find these tools.

He’s watching people and their patterns.

He’s looking for obvious holes in the security.

He’s like, oh, yeah, the car comes down and it takes a while for that gate to close.

It’s all about slow closing doors in this movie.

Yeah, but it’s like it’s exploiting those known vulnerabilities in the physical security.

A lot of this stuff is honestly, it’s like stuff people could probably realistic, pretty realistic in terms of like, you know, like all the how he breaks into places and stuff.

It’s like, yeah, of course, this is it’s simple, straightforward.

You don’t need like crazy James Bond level, you know, trickery and, you know, AI things to hack.

It’s like, no, you just you go in like you dress as like a garbage worker and where people are expecting to see garbage workers and you just walk in through the front door, right?

It’s like, of course, why do something?

Why use many word when few word do?

That was when he goes to kill the lawyer, the handler.

That was another funny moment where he gets it wrong, right?

Because he nail guns the guy’s chest and he’s telling him is like, you have about seven minutes to live.

So give me the information.

And as he’s saying that the guy dies, right?

He’s just like, oh, you just he didn’t quite pull off that that hit as well as he thought he would be able to either.

Because he was like, there’s some unknown variable.

He’s like, oh, yeah, mid 40s doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke.

He should last for like five or six minutes with those three, you know, things, the three nails in his chest.

But I think because he falls down, maybe because he was he was counting on him staying upright, I think when he falls down, I kind of the blood kind of something happens.

It’s like, oh, it’s like, oh, damn, but he puts this commonly puts a newspaper under so it doesn’t get blood on the rug.

Well, this was also the other funny part of that scene is the guy almost like chooses not to have his head immediately hit the ground.

He keeps it up.

And then The Killer puts the newspaper on there.

And I got the sense that both of them were like, we do have to protect the carpet in this room, right?

Which is like part of it was like, I don’t want the evidence.

I don’t want to blood in here because it’s going to lead me back.

But part of it was like, it’s a nice rug.

It really ties the room together.

So those are some of the funny moments where it’s just like, it’s pretty dark.

What’s going on here?

But it’s also kind of amazing.

This is in line.

Like all of Fincher’s movies have that dark humor in them.

So for somebody to say that it’s really interesting to hear those comments online where people are like, oh, this is his funniest movie ever, I don’t know how they really watch his other movies then, because they’re all pretty darkly humorous.

I don’t know.

And the final killer, sorry, the assassin that he has to kill, Tilda Swinton’s character, really raises the stakes because he’s talking about doing everything in private, all this stuff, and he goes into the restaurant, a public place, and sits down with this woman that sort of talk about, like, I’m going to kill you soon, and he does it out in public.

It’s at nighttime and he’s sort of behind the building, but there was a real sense of tension during that entire thing of like, is she going to outsmart him in this scenario?

Because we’ve heard him talk at the end of the movie about knowing when people are following you, and he’s paranoid throughout the film too.

He remarks people on the plane thinking, he’s like, oh, this guy might be part of the system that’s out to get him, right?

And it’s just like, she would be having the same thought process too.

Like, we don’t know exactly her skills.

And even to the point where she orders a special drink and offers him a drink, it’s like, come on, this could be a poison drink.

And he eventually does take a drink of it.

Only after he watches her take four drinks first, right?

Because she says, I was thinking as an audience member, she’s ordering something from the kitchen, well-known, like the restaurant knows her.

It’s going to be poison, of course.

And he just sits there, doesn’t take a drink, doesn’t take a bite of the meal.

She’s like, oh, it’s not poison.

I’ll eat this right now.

He’s not having any of that.

Evan does away with her in the back.

And I love that last moment where she’s like, oh my goodness, I’ve tripped down the stairs.

Last request, just help me up.

And it was a trick because she has a knife in her hand.

If he leaned in, he was going to get a knife basically.

And he actually anticipated that movement and just shoots her dead before she has a chance to act.

And that’s what I love.

I was mentioning before about characters acting intelligently and making smart decisions because you know this character.

She’s been set up as like the brain.

She’s sneaky and she’s a talker.

And she’s been distracting this whole time by talking to him.

And when she falls down, I was like, help me up.

I was like, don’t help her up.

This is obviously a trick.

It’s obviously a trap.

She’s a trained assassin.

And you see him like, no, just like, boom, shoots her in the head and she falls down.

You see the knife in her hand when she rolls over.

It’s like, yes, the character made an intelligent decision.

And it’s like it was in keeping with his character, right?

It’s like you think about these things through.

It was like it was somebody else from work, right?

You’re outsmarting them.

But it was interesting, too, where he’s comparing like, oh, it was interesting.

It was almost like a Dexter-esque.

It’s like similar to Dexter, right?

Where he’s like, when he has like a, when he’s meeting up with whatever serial killer who’s going to kill that season, but when he goes to Tilda Swinton and he’s scoping her out, he’s like, oh, she chooses to live in a suburban neighborhood because even the guy down in Florida, the brute, he was in a house kind of off the beaten trail.

The killer’s house was way out in the middle of nowhere in the Dominican Republic.

He’s like, oh, oh, she chooses to live in suburban area, like highly populated suburban area out in the open.

It was almost like, it was kind of a cool, I thought of Dexter immediately when I saw that scene.

It was like, oh, this one serial killer like looking at another serial killer.

It was like, oh, how do they have a full life when I’m kind of hiding the shadows?

Like, oh, it’s a really interesting comparison of how people compartmentalize differently and deal with their job differently.

It was a really neat character building moment that didn’t draw attention to itself.

But it was like, everything with Fincher is so subtle.

I love it.

I mean, he really is a master behind the camera.

Like his films, everything is intentional on screen.

I love every second.

I love the overall look of his movies.

And I’m sure we’ve talked enough about it in our make episode.

So go have a listen to that ranking of those films.

But it’s all present here.

It’s all really neat.

Whatever he’s doing, just like I love watching it unfold on screen.

Yeah, I’ve been critical recent movies where everything’s so dark on screen.

You can’t see what’s going on.

I think I mentioned this in our Prey episode.

But this one, the main action scene, one of the big action set pieces is The Killer fighting the Brutes in his home.

Everything’s darkly lit, but you can still see exactly what’s happening.

You can follow every action beat.

Every action beat builds on the last one.

Every hit is logical or makes sense within that world.

And you can see clearly there’s an art to lighting dark rooms and dark environments where you can still see everything.

Black Panther 2 was another big offender for some night scenes where you can’t see anything.

But yeah, David Fincher, he needs to give some kind of masterclass in Hollywood on how to properly light a dark scene.

Oh, it’s tremendous.

And like, I don’t know.

I’m just thinking about more Fincher stuff.

Like we’ve had the Mindhunter Netflix TV series there.

And all that stuff comes through there.

You’re like, my goodness.

I love it.

I was almost disappointed that it wasn’t like set in the 70s or the 80s because he’s so good at making his movies look proper, like Zodiac in the 70s.

Just looks so good.

And his attention to detail, he goes above and beyond to make sure like the skylines are proper and everything.

It’s just like everything will be accurate.

This little like generic, I guess, in a sense where everything is just modern and didn’t feel as exotic because it was set in modern times.

Speaking of Zodiac, I was actually reading an article online the other day.

Somebody, some news nerd pointed out that even the typewriters in the newsroom, they were the appropriate typewriters.

And like even down to the model, that just changed slightly from like the 60s to the 70s.

And they could tell, it’s like, oh yeah, like he literally got the exact one from that model from that exact year that would have been there.

There’s like a slight couple changes that nobody would have noticed, general viewer wouldn’t notice, but like that’s how detailed David Fincher goes.

It’s even like a typewriter on a desk in the background is period specific.

And yeah, like maybe movies set in modern times, it’s like, it’s a little bit harder.

There’s more mystique of something set in the 70s.

It feels like there’s something more exotic about that timeframe because we weren’t really, neither of us were alive in that timeframe, but it’s far enough removed even from something from the 90s now, set in the 90s, where we were alive.

It still feels like it’s removed from our times.

It’s like, oh yeah, there’s something about that period-specific setting where it feels a bit more removed, a bit more outlandish or a bit more fantastical maybe.

Yeah, maybe a couple of years we’ll look back on this, it’ll be like, okay, it feels very period-specific and period-appropriate.

But yeah, there’s a bit of that mystique missing, I guess, that temporal mystique, I guess, was missing.

Any other comments, observations, critiques before we head into our ratings on this film?

No, I think we covered everything.

I had a lot of fun with this movie, considering the dark subject matter about assassins assassinating people getting killed in varying degrees of blood and gore.

But I was riveted the whole time.

There was still a lot of tension, even knowing how some of the beats would go and even not having the bigger twists that David Fincher is known for.

It was still very tense in a lot of scenes.

Michael Fassbender, I don’t know why he was taking a break, but he needs to be in more movies.

I felt like for a while he was one of the big A-list stars that was in every movie.

And for a while there he was in so many movies.

And I want to see more of him.

And if part of Fincher’s deal with Netflix is to make more sequels to The Killer, then I’m all in.

If also it just so happens that part of the deal is David Fincher doing these other movies and he gets the clout to then have to then make Mindhunter season three.

Hey, I’m cool with that as well.

Whatever you want to Fincher, if you want to make another movie or make Mindhunter season three or whatever you want to do, but Mindhunter season three definitely, if that’s up your alley, I’m not going to complain if Mindhunter season three is what you want to do, David Fincher.

Unfortunately, I think the Mindhunter dream is dead, but definitely I’m sure everyone would welcome more seasons of that show with Fincher behind the wheel.

Ratings, we use the five star system with a possible like on top of that.

Out of five stars, what do you give The Killer?

My initial reaction was four out of five stars.

It was really, again, this is for me a lesser Fincher, but it’s still four out of five stars.

I want to make this clear.

I really enjoyed this movie.

The only reason I would be disappointed is specifically because it was David Fincher and because I have, I guess, those elevated expectations, very, very high expectations from Fincher.

Maybe he’s his own worst enemy in terms of just because he’s so great.


Well, it becomes a problem after a while.

The Killer, I had a lot of fun with it.

Four out of five movie.

It’s not a terrible rating by any means.

It just wasn’t as good as I think some of the other movies that may go up for me.

Maybe four and a half when I watch it again.

We’ll see.

But four to five, that feels like where I’m going to land at the time being.

How about you, Brian?

What did you rate this out of five?

Four out of five, again, it’s just that seemed like an appropriate spot for it.

I did try and watch it again and I got about an hour and a half in.

It was the second movie in a Saturday Night Double Feature.

I was getting pretty tired.

I ended up falling asleep on the couch.

I didn’t see the end of it again, but I was like, I look forward to seeing this.

I really do hope it gets a nice physical release.

I want to watch this movie in all its glory.

It’s David Fincher stuff.

The story here is good.

It’s a nice revenge movie.

It’s not too complicated for sure.

Like we said earlier, it’s kind of a straightforward little adventure, but there’s enough going on with the characters that they feel really pretty well fleshed out.

I think there’s some nice interpretation when you start reading about things online.

People are kind of taking the movie in different directions, so it’s spurring some good conversation out there.

And everyone who’s just like, there wasn’t enough action or anything, it’s like, I don’t know what to tell you.

This one was, it was perfectly good.

And especially for the runtime, everything just fell into a perfect puzzle.

Like every piece was just, it was just great.

I mean, most of the movies are like that.

They were just awesome.

Yeah, if you’re looking for a John Wick movie, my advice to you would be go watch a John Wick movie.

The Killer is not a John Wick clone in any way, ship or form.

It’s the same.

I think it got caught up in that conversation.

The same way Pig did a couple of years back with Nicholas Cage where maybe the trailers made it look like it was going to be like a John Wick style revenge movie.

I definitely fell under that.

I remember seeing the trailers and be like, oh yeah, Nicholas Cage is going to go on a murderous rampage here.

This is great.

But what we got was just so much better than that.

Yeah, a hundred percent.

So like The Killer is not John Wick style, you know, action set piece, extravaganza, a stunt person showcase.

It’s, you know, like a lot of Fincher stuff.

It’s slow, methodical, brilliantly paced, excellently directed, beautifully shot.

But yeah, it’s not, if you’re looking to get your action, adrenaline high action movie, The Killer is not that.

So around the web, we like to take some guesses on the overall reception on the movie.

And up first, we usually talk about Rotten Tomatoes, and they use the percent scale 0 to 100.

Play along at home.

See how close you can get to the Rotten Tomato Critic rating.

Nathan, what do you think the critics landed out for this?


Very close.


I almost had my second bang on.

The second correct answer.

They also measure the audience rating, same scale.

Where do you think the audience is ranked on this?




What is wrong with these audiences?

What’s wrong with these damn kids?

To be fair, I don’t know how accurate it is.

Who knows how accurate these things are.

It had a small theatrical run.

It came out on Netflix at the time of this recording, three days ago, or two days ago, I guess.

I don’t know how much they played about.

In any event, IMDb, 10-point scale, 0 to 10, what do you think its average is amongst its users?


Let’s go 7.7.

It’s a 7.0.

That low, huh?

I think there was…

I don’t know if it was expectations, but I think we sort of touched on maybe what people were a little confused on for this movie.

But the letterboxed users, what do you think the letterboxed average is here?


Well, now you got me thinking.

I don’t know, maybe like a 3.2?

A little higher.

It’s a 3.6.

It’s not bad.

It’s a bit more respectable, yeah.

It’s no Killers of the Flower Moon type ratings, but it’s still up there.

Man, I haven’t been gonna…

This is a thing too.

It hasn’t been getting a lot of buzz.

It makes me wonder if there have been more trailers out.

I think this helps set people’s expectations.

One of the roles that trailers serve is to help kind of set those expectations.

And maybe you see maybe all advertising isn’t bad.

Is that what we learned today?

What is this world coming to?

It’s true.

I was at the theater for another movie with my friend, and we were talking about The Killer a little bit because there was a poster for it on the wall.

And I’m just like, I thought it was supposed to come out near the end of October, and there was like three or four days left in October.

And lo and behold, it comes out like that Saturday.

It’s just like right at the very end, there’s no advertising.

There’s just very much under the radar.

And that definitely affects it.

And it’s funny because reading about Netflix, they release movies in the theatre for a couple reasons now.

I think one is for the awards, possibility of like being eligible for different things.

But a couple years ago, I think it was the sequel to Knives Out became a Netflix movie.

And they gave it like a one week theatrical run, if that, and then released it onto the platform right away.

And the executives have said it was a mistake to do that.

They should have left it in theatres a lot longer because it did huge amounts of money during that one week.

And at the theatres, it was released at.

And then they pull it and just released it on streaming.

It’s like they put, they left millions of dollars out there by their own admission.

I think maybe they saw this and were like, this may not have as wide of a appeal as something like Glass Onion.

But, you know, I’m glad it got some kind of release out there.

And Apple doing the same kind of thing, releasing their movies for a little bit longer perhaps.

And then put it before put on their streaming platform.

Everybody wins.

Everybody wins.

As always, we appreciate you hanging out with us today and taking the time to listen to our podcast.

You can find us online over at where we have not just a repository of podcast episodes, but many of our written reviews as well.

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All the links should be within the show notes here.

So until next time, take care of yourself and others and be sure to enjoy your film journey.

Thank you.