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The Killer (MA15+)

Director: David Fincher (The Social Network)

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell.

Rating:hhhh

Another day, another dollar … and another death

“Stick to the plan. Don’t improvise. Anticipate.”

So goes the mantra often repeated by The Killer throughout the movie which bears his name.

As played by the great Michael Fassbender – who has not graced the big screen in over four years – The Killer is a man in complete control of situations most would consider as completely out of control.

Yes, The Killer is a hit man. And yes, there have been way too many movies about such despicable figures over the years.

However, this particular portrait of a paid assassin is worthy of our consideration for one irresistibly compelling reason: this immaculately designed movie takes us deep inside the head of its subject, and leaves us there to fend for ourselves.

It is a cold and dark place, but not an empty one. Not with Fassbender’s superb narration of his character’s innermost thoughts and theories to lead the way forward.

You may not like the final destination, but you will come to admire (and perhaps even enjoy) this journey through a mercenary mind.

The opening act of The Killer is as brilliant as it is disarming.

Imagine a complete inversion of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Fassbender’s character is stationed inside an abandoned office building in central Paris. Across the street is the penthouse suite of an elite private hotel.

The Killer is clearly awaiting the arrival of someone. Someone who will definitely be checking in, but highly unlikely to check out. It could be days, perhaps even a week, before the target allows The Killer a clear shot.

Until then, The Killer informs us, the audience, of the benchmarks, the KPIs, the protocols and even the relaxation techniques that underpin every facet of his occupation.

You find yourself thinking: this is quite a one-man operation that The Killer is running. Until, at the completion of his Parisian assignment, you suddenly notice The Killer himself is literally running.

Our antihero missed the devil hiding in one small detail of the job, and now his life will be forever that of a fugitive. Unless he finds that devil and dispatches it back to the hell from whence it came.

Though The Killer is not a character who invites sympathy for his plight, he does somehow elicit our support for his quest.

The two reasons why are easy to identify. The clinical precision of Fassbender’s performance is one.

The other is the dynamic direction of David Fincher, a gifted filmmaker whose best works (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac and Gone Girl) have forged an imposing reputation for making the intimidating seem so inviting.

The Killer is in cinemas now and will be available to stream on Netflix from Friday, November 10

DUMB MONEY (MA15+)

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General release

If you loved The Big Short and its irreverent take-down of Wall Street at its very worst, then chances are you will at least like Dumb Money. Which is not to undervalue a movie that is essentially about, umm, an undervalued commodity. This is the true story of what came to be a legend in the lore of stock market day-trading: the GameStop saga. At the height of the Covid lockdowns, YouTube stock tipster Keith Gill (played by Paul Dano) had a hunch that there was still some money to made from investing in a decrepit retail chain named GameStop. Gill’s educated guess went viral among stay-at-home traders, and the GameStop share price suddenly went stratospheric. This peeved several traditional titans of Wall Street, who had billions of dollars riding on their belief that GameStop shares would plummet. As directed by Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya, Pam & Tommy), a lively cast led by Seth Rogen, America Ferrera and Pete Davidson lean hard into the absurdity of this David-vs.-Goliath tale with most amusing results. However, the economic implications of how big-dollar bubbles blow up and then burst are not glossed over here. Good stuff.

FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S (M)

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General release

This erratic adaptation of the popular video game franchise has been in development for a decade, and experienced several changes in creative direction along the way. The uncertainty behind the scenes clearly manifests itself on-screen, with the movie often losing all momentum and urgency at the moments such factors are clearly required. It is a shame, because there are actually some fresh ideas and unsettling bursts of menace buried away inside an otherwise ho-hum horror flick. Josh Hutcherson stars as Mike, the stressed security guard of Freddy’s, a former children’s restaurant venue that has fallen into severe disrepair.

To make matters worse for Mike, the star attractions at Freddy’s – a creepy collection of animatronic creatures – are yet to realise the show is over, and delight in killing anyone unlucky enough to catch them live on stage. Not a terrible effort by any stretch, but not a need-to-immediately-see one either.

Originally published as Michael Fassbender is clinical precision in portrait of paid assassin

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By Rahul

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