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David Fincher’s “The Killer” is more Maxwell Smart than James Bond

Michael Fassbender stars as a dorky but lethal hit man in David Fincher’s risibly savage thriller “The Killer.”

The Killer

Starring Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Arliss Howard, Charles Parnell, Sophie Charlotte, Kerry O’Malley, Sala Baker, Gabriel Polanco. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker. Directed by David Fincher. Opens in theatres Friday, streaming on Netflix beginning Nov. 10. 118 minutes. 14A

⭐️⭐️⭐️ (out of 4)

Peter Howell

Movie Critic

We’re advised near the top of David Fincher’s savagely risible “The Killer” that McDonald’s has 1,500 restaurants in France, the land of proud gourmands.

This shocking fact — it’s true, I Googled it — comes via the incessant and didactic voice-over of Michael Fassbender’s title character, a contract killer with an apparently insatiable need to explain himself and his ghastly occupation.

The McDonald’s info is dropped while the Killer is hunkering with a telescopic rifle inside a dark and empty WeWork office in Paris, waiting to shoot a high-value target across the street. He scarfs down basic McD’s burgers (not even Big Macs!) as cheap and fast protein to keep his trigger finger itchy.

It’s all part of his lean-and-mean modus operandi, which is designed for efficiency and anonymity but frankly makes him seem a bit of a dork.

He also drives boring cars, flies economy using pseudonyms lifted from ancient U.S. sitcoms (does he look like “Archie Bunker” to you?) and listens to Morrissey moan on a playlist packed with kill-me-now tunes by the Smiths.

His favourite attire includes a bucket hat and shades that could make him a finalist in a Hunter S. Thompson cosplay contest.

He repeats a mantra cribbed from an Espionage 101 manual: “Trust no one … anticipate, don’t improvise … forbid empathy.” He likes to conclude his thoughts with the forceful utterance of the word “simple,” as in, how could I fail?

You know the drill (yawn) and the macho voice-over conceit does get old pretty fast.

But make no mistake. Our man is indeed a stone-cold killer, when he sets his mind to getting a job done, although his thoughts do seem to wander.

(Originally published in the Toronto Star.)

Tilda Swinton stars oppositve Michael Fassbender in the hit man thriller “The Killer.”


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