The Killer

Riveting revenge romp

Okay, you’ve seen trained-assassin movies before; they’re not all that rare. But you haven’t seen one by David Fincher (Se7en, Gone Girl, The Social Network, Fight Club) and starring Michael Fassbender (300, The X-Men, Inglourious Basterds, Shame, Haywire, 12 Years a Slave).

We meet the unnamed title character as he oh so patiently waits in the shadows, meticulously setting up his next shot in Paris. In a voiceover (he rarely speaks) he tells us of his methods and repeats his mantra: Stick to your plan. Anticipate, don’t improvise. Trust no one. Never yield an advantage. Fight only the battle you’re paid to fight. He’s almost proud of his lack of any sort of moral scruples or empathy. One quote is, “Of those who like to put their faith in the inherent goodness of mankind, I have to ask, ‘Based on what, exactly?’”

Then he blows the shot, and the movie starts. The rules of the game say this is a death sentence, so in order to save his own life, he must turn all his creepy killer skills toward finding, through several murderous levels, the original client.

Is his mantra right? Is he really in control? Glitches appear that belie his zero-fucks-given existential nihilism as he nears his goal (see if you can spot his sole facial flinch). It’s all a kind of dark, sardonic fun, bordering on self-parody.

And it’s comically subversive, filled with Easter eggs for the watchful. Look for sly nods to past paid-killer classics. And you may notice that his many fake credit cards all bear the names of famous sitcom characters. Stuff like that.

Great supporting cast that includes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her Tilda Swinton. Based on a French graphic novel by Alexis Nolent.. On Netflix. (118 min)