The Killer: Homage or Return to Roots

The Killer

With The Killer, David Fincher returns to his gritty and unpredictable roots.

Fincher’s career as a director has been eclectic and fascinating, at least for the first few decades. Starting with advertisements and music videos in the ’80s, breaking through with Alien sequels and psychological thrillers in the ’90s, and the following decades with complex biographical dramas. It seems like he did everything. 

Nevertheless, there is something that seems to be his specialty. That is the psychological thriller. The Killer is Fincher’s new psychological thriller starring Michael Fassbender as the hired murderer who, for some reason, is obsessed with The Smiths. Continuing his relationship with Netflix with this movie, we follow the title killer as he narrates the incident from his botched work to the end of his vengeance spree.  

A Hitchcockian First Act

During the first act, Fassbender’s character narrates his mission to kill his target in a Parisian hotel. He is methodical, meticulous, and rational. Doing his exercises, having breakfast from McDonald’s, and monitoring the hotel room until the target comes. Those first 20 minutes are like Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window combined. The silent and cold hitman doing his routine and looking at the building across his window like Jimmy Stewart in Hitcock’s classic. 

It’s a known fact that Fincher movies always had Hitchcokian influences. On top of that, Rear Window is one of his favorite films (yes, look it up). It is the source material that makes it unique in his filmography. Jean-Pierre Melville’s DNA is evident in this film based on a French graphic novel. His influence in character design, visual style, and a similar plot to Le Samouraï is there. Combine all these elements with Fincher’s desaturated color palette yet slick cinematography, and they have all the ingredients to make the best movie of the year.  

Crazy and Unexpected

At least, that was expected. Unfortunately, things get too crazy for their own good after a perfectly structured first act. We should have prepared ourselves for what to expect when our antihero goes to Florida. We go from a neo-noir crime thriller to a neo-noir John Wick worship movie. The frenetic fight style was disproportionate to the rest of the film. Maybe Netflix told Fincher to have something similar to modern action movies. That Florida dude was fighting like a superhero villain. And Michael Fassbender turned from an homage to Jef Costello to another unbeatable action hero.  

That pitbull running through the glass made me laugh too much. I’ve never laughed after listening to The Smith for an hour. So I must give it to David Fincher. He made me laugh while listening to Morrisey’s depressive singing voice. Even though I don’t think it was an appropriate tone shift, it was fun to watch. That’s when I realized this is like earlier David Fincher movies.


Even though he established himself as an auteur and did more serious and grounded works such as Zodiac, The Social Network, and Mank. He’s still the same director that brought us a head in a box in Seven, a twisted terrible joke of a birthday present in The Game, and everything in Fight Club. This is a filmmaker who can have deviant characters and make unpredictable films.  

This is what we need as cinephiles and movie lovers. We need an auteur to be creative. To give us distinctive things that take inspiration from dissimilar sources. We don’t need The Marvels. What we need is The Killer. We deserve artists like David Fincher. Who paid homage to Jean-Pierre Melville and returned to his roots. 

The Killer is streaming on Netflix.

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