David Fincher movies ranked: The Killer director’s films rated from worst to best including The Social Network
The Killer and The Social Network director David Fincher has made classic thrillers as well as sci-fi flops
The Killer is a new slick crime thriller directed by master of the genre David Fincher and starring Michael Fassbender. Despite now being known as one of the best thriller directors of modern times, Fincher actually got his start directing music videos, helming scores of them for musicians including Madonna, Sting, Aerosmith, and Billy Idol, before he landed his first feature film.
And Fincher almost fell at the first hurdle as Alien 3, the first film he ever directed was a massive disappointment, especially coming following the success of James Cameron’s sequel.
He got his next movie, Se7en, which remains one of his most popular films, by mistake, and he’s been putting out acclaimed films ever since. With the release of his latest film, The Killer, on Netflix, we look back at Fincher’s movie career and rank his directorial efforts from worst to best.
Alien 3 (1992)
This is a film so bad that Fincher actually disowned it - citing studio interference and ridiculous deadlines as the reason why he couldn’t put his vision together. The horror film sequel is set on a prison planet where Ellen Ripley crash lands in her escape shuttle, which also harbours another xenomorph.
The decision to kill off many of the main supporting cast from the previous movies at the very start of the film, and the last of suspense that made the first Alien a cult classic, led to Fincher’s directorial threatening to derail his career before it had gotten started. His only solace is that the next sequel, Alien: Resurrection, was even worse.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Fincher’s take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story managed to stretch the 66 page novella out to 2 hours and 45 minutes. And that’s the film’s biggest weakness - it just had no business being longer than two hours.
Packaged within the puffed out movie is quite a moving and tragic romantic story about a man who ages backwards and a woman that he continues to cross paths with at various stages of their lives, only briefly overlapping in age. It’s also quite a nice meditation on life in the shadow of death, just with too much guff surrounding it.
Filmmakers love making movies about movies, so it makes sense that Fincher would tackle what is often regarded as the greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane, written by Herman J. Mankiewicz. The alcoholic screenwriter is played by fan favourite Gary Oldman and the film follows his race to finish the screenplay for which he won an Academy Award.
Mank is filmed in the same style as Citizen Kane, and boasts plenty of cool sets and period features, but ultimately it’s a homage to a far greater film, and leaves you wondering why you didn’t just rewatch Citizen Kane instead.
Panic Room (2002)
One of Fincher’s lesser known, but nonetheless enjoyable thrillers, Panic Room stars Jodie Foster and a young Kristen Stewart as a mother and daughter who are forced to take refuge in the panic room of their new home during a robbery.
The robbers, led by a man who built panic rooms for a career, are an unsuited trio, setting the stage for plenty of tension in this tight psychological cat and mouse thriller. With the claustrophobic setting that taps into a universal fear (did I lock the back door?) it’s a stripped back trailer that dumps on later imitations - The Purge, for instance.
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Jake Gyllenhaal before they were Iron Man, the Hulk, and an underwhelming Spider-Man villain, Zodiac follows a detective who becomes obsessed with tracking down the elusive Zodiac Killer who terrorised northern California in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.
It’s a fascinating portrait of obsession, especially as the audience knows from the get-go that the serial killer was never found. Gyllenhaal plays Paul Avery, a cartoonist turned detective who cannot put the case out of his mind, in probably his best performance outside of Prisoners and Donnie Darko. It’s a dark, chilling film which, unlike Benjamin Button, deserves every minute of its lengthy run time.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Adapted from Stieg Larsson’s fantastic detective thriller of the same name, and an English language remake of the Swedish language original, the film follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for 40 years by young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander.
James Bond star Daniel Craig plays the troubled journo, whilst Rooney Mara is excellent as the hacker. It’s a great slow burn that leads up to an uncomfortable final climax. Unfortunately further English language sequels never came to fruition, possibly because there’s very little to differentiate between this film and the equally fascinating Swedish language original, which did get sequels.
The Social Network (2010)
On paper a film about the creation of Facebook should be mind-numbingly boring, But Fincher managed to work his magic on The Social Network, and make Mark Zuckerberg look like a self-centred tool at the same time.
It’s a film about greed, betrayal, and in many ways toxic masculinity - Facebook was originally created as a tool to rate women at Harvard University based on their looks without their consent - before evolving into a networking site used by more than a billion people. There’s strong performances from Jesse Eisenberg, Armie Hammer, who plays both the Winklevoss twins, and even Justin Timberlake, but Andrew Garfield is the film’s stand-out.
The Killer (2023)
The Killer is a slick crime thriller with very little actual dialogue, the film is mostly narrated by Fassbender, the titular hitman who spends the first act of the film talking us through exactly how to carry out the perfect kill, before missing his shot and screwing up his assignment.
The assassin is then forced to take on his own kind as his client orders a hit on him for bungling the mission. We’re treated to plenty of great location shots, as Fassbender travels across Paris, the US, and Dominican Republic in search of revenge. The ending is likely to divide viewers, but the film itself is a captivating ride.
The Game (1997)
Fincher movies are known for their twists, and The Game has about a dozen of them. The Michael Douglas, Sean Penn vehicle follows a man (Douglas), whose brother (Penn) has bought him a strange present, entering him into a mysterious game. As the film goes on, he begins to suspect that the strange game is actually a widespread conspiracy designed to destroy every aspect of his life.
It’s never clear until the very last moment whether Douglas is just being incredibly paranoid or whether forces of darkness are out to get him, and it is at times chilling trying to work it out. If you ever want a film to make you doubt your own sense of reality and trigger an existential crisis, then give The Game a watch.
Gone Girl (2014)
One of the best films from any director of the last decade, Gone Girl, based on the Gillian Flynn novel of the same name, stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as an unhappily married couple.
The film is built around the sudden disappearance, and apparent murder of the wife, with Affleck’s character attracting increasing scrutiny as his story doesn’t seem to add up and it becomes clear that he’s hiding something. It’s a murder mystery with a whopping great twist, but one that can be enjoyed on repeat viewings, even knowing how it all goes down. Also features a surprisingly good dramatic turn from How I Met You Mother’s Neil Patrick Harris.
Fight Club (1999)
The film bro’s film of choice, Fight Club is probably Fincher’s most well-known film, and it’s mostly because of a twist that puts even Gone Girl to shame. The Brad Pitt, Edward Norton double act, with Helena Bonham Carter supporting as a dangerously depressive love interest makes for perfect casting.
We follows Ed’s unnamed narrator through his boring flatpack furniture life, until he encounters Tyler Durder, played by Pitt in the most IDGAF style possible, as he takes the man under his wing, introducing him to an underground fight club that eventually evolved into an anarchistic, and borderline terrorist operation.
Fincher’s second film, and still his best, the director only landed the movie when he was sent Andrew Kevin Walker’s script by mistake and agreed to helm the project as long as the ending wasn’t changed.
The film put together Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, a detective nearing retirement and his protégé, working in a gloomy city when they are faced with a serial killer taking the lives of people they believe have transgressed one of the seven deadly sins. Kevin Spacey is fantastic as the psychopathic killer, whilst Gwenyth Paltrow’s inside the box acting as Pitt’s wife actually gave the film an edge. Oh, and the closing line is perhaps the best of any film ever.