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  • Robert Farago

The Killer - Netflix Movie Review

Jerry Lee Lewis (not shown) was one of the greatest rock-and-roll piano players of all time. Lewis’ mastery of the keys and flamboyant showmanship “knocked ‘em dead.” Hence his nickname: The Killer. Unfortunately…

The assassin in Netflix’s The Killer listens to The Smiths, a 80’s band known for its songs about despair, rejection and death. Which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the “hero.”

And my feelings about this movie. I despaired at just how much I didn’t care about the eponymous killer. His interior monologues – introduced in opening scenes that rival continental drift for pace – are significantly less profound than a Nike ad.

Stick with the plan, never improvise. So now you know. In case you missed it, the killer repeats this simplistic mantra ad nauseam. The message leads you to expect his plans will be disrupted. They are, once. And not in a surprising way.

Not that we care. There is nothing, nix, nada, the big goose egg in terms of character development. The killer has about as much personality as the corpses he leaves behind. He’s often bored and frequently boring.

To be fair, Irish actor Michael Fassbender is really good at staring. Blankly. Not even a Clint Eastwood squint do we see. When a victim tells the “hero” a long-winded dirty joke… nothing. My main reaction to Fassbender: will someone buy this guy a sandwich?

The only vaguely interesting dialogue comes from his victims’ pre-assassination monologues. And by “vaguely” I mean don’t worry if you’re busy making a snack.

Most of the assassin’s victims resign themselves to their death, except for one gentleman who skips the shtick to put up a long, violent fight. A conflict that should put our “hero” in the hospital for a few weeks. But doesn’t. In fact, nothing phases the killer. Constantly.

The Killer has none of the visual style (or the story arc) of the French comic books upon which it’s based. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a French omelette made by IHOP.

You know those movies where you’re glad you’re watching it on a big ass TV or wished you’d seen it on the big screen? Not it. Where’s a bit of Blade Runner noire weather or atmospheric lighting when you need it? Not here.

As a hat wearer, I reject the idea that the assassin is cool. There’s not a human being alive or dead who looks cool in a porkpie hat. No props to the prop master for those boring, overlarge sunglasses.

Cool heroes say cool shit. And do cool shit. The near silent assassin doesn’t utter a single memorable line and saves his most intricate plot for a man he doesn’t kill. Yawn.

I’ll say this much: The Killer’s killer’s got the “grim” part of grim reaper right. He shows no apparent emotion as he follows ye olde revenge killing template; hunting down the perp who molested and beat-up his girlfriend, the agency dickhead who betrayed him (a revenge movie staple), the dickhead’s milquetoast assistant and the client who paid for his demise.

The Killer might have been worth watching if we gave a shit about the assassin or any of his victims. If he encountered unexpected obstacles. If there was a plot twist of any kind, sort or description. A chase scene? Dialogue? Sex? A cute dog? Something.

The Killer left me wondering if anyone knows how to make a movie anymore. A trailer, yes. A movie no. I reckon tentpole flicks (e.g., paint-by-numbers Marvel movies) have dominated the market for so long, so-called creatives are planning sequels before they figure out what would make the first flick worth watching.

The Killer goes through the motions without any inventiveness. Any joie de vivre or raison d'etre. It’s mindless entertainment, but not in a good way.

The prospect of future episodes of this not-even-glossy snuff series (I refuse to use the word movie) is deeply depressing. Not The Smith’s lyrics depressing, but close.

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