EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, films like The Killer might not exist.
The 80th Venice Film Festival kicks off this week while Hollywood’s writing and acting strikes continue. Making a quiet but impactful debut will be the new film by David Fincher titled The Killer and starring Michael Fassbender. The film is produced by Netflix, with whom Fincher has collaborated on House of Cards, Mindhunter, and Mank. A new teaser trailer arrived this week to show glimpses of the anticipated title as well as details on its release dates. After debuting in Venice this weekend, The Killer will release to select theaters October 23rd and on Netflix November 10th, 2023.
The logline premise for The Killer boils down to “after a hit job gone wrong, an international assassin goes on the run from his employees while battling his own demons.” While only being a teaser trailer, we get the vibes of exactly that. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if Fincher had a hand in the trailer design as he has in the past for his films. I see that premise in action, as Michael Fassebender’s assassin protagonist is shown with all the hallmarks: guns, disguises, smartwatch tech, chase and fight sequences, exotic locations, and everything everyone expects from the action-thriller genre.
“Stick to the plan” says The Killer, narrating his own action in the trailer and perhaps hinting at his own neurotic and calculating nature. The trailer teases and entices, only showing shots for seconds before cutting to new dynamic imagery. Erik Messerscmidt provides the signature sleek digital look of Fincher films the past 16 years, moving his camera in action and composing symmetrical framing. Kirk Baxter cuts Fincher films to within an inch of their life, and this trailer is no exception. The Trent Reznor/ Atticus Ross score pulses and broods throughout.
After a troubled first production on Alien 3, David Fincher put a mark on the cinematic world with 1995’s Neo-noir thriller Se7en. This film would showcase Fincher’s stylistic signatures to come, a perfectionism some compare to director Stanley Kubrick. Carefully produced and expertly acted, Fincher’s films dig deep at society and the human condition. Neo-noir dramas such as Fight Club, Zodiac, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl make the director instantly recognizable in the film culture zeitgeist.
Fincher usually collaborates with many of the same crew and The Killer is no outlier. Messerschmidt returns as cinematographer from Fincher’s last film, Mank. Reznor and Ross continue the trend as musical composers dating back to 2010’s The Social Network. Baxter brings his editorial skills to Fincher’s bay dating back six straight films. Lead Michael Fassbender, meanwhile, makes his Fincher-film debut. The two may be a perfect match: Fassbinder is best known for his dramatic work in Shame, Inglorious Basterds, Steve Jobs, and his stern portrayal of Magneto in the X-Men films.
With the fall/winter landscape in flux as studios delay until 2024, The Killer is a welcome addition. This trailer entices and promises continued aesthetic prowess from Fincher and his key collaborators. The wrinkle with the film’s roll out will be the word-of-mouth from Venice this week and its impact on the length of its theatrical run.
After debuting in Venice this weekend The Killer will release to select theaters October 23rd and on Netflix November 10th, 2023. It is directed by David Fincher, and adapted for the screen by Andrew Kevin Walker based on the graphic novel of the same name. It stars Michael Fassbender, Arliss Howard, and Tilda Swinton.