- David Fincher’s new Netflix film, The Killer, is divided into six chapters, each covering one target of the contract killer protagonist.
- The film explores the mind of the killer, delving into his mental discipline and the methods he uses to carry out his work.
- The narrative is subjective, showing the killer’s incompetence and raising questions about his commitment to his work.
David Fincher’s new Netflix film, The Killer, is divided into six chapters. The movie stars Michael Fassbender as an unnamed contract killer who botches an assassination, turning his contractors against him. The contractors attempt to kill him in his home in the Dominican Republic but instead find his girlfriend, who’s left badly injured. The Killer seeks vengeance, eliminating those complicit in the hit attempt one at a time. For the most part, each of the film’s chapters covers one target.
Fincher has always been interested in exploring the mind of the killer, with films like Se7en and Gone Girl and his Netflix series Mindhunter. The Killer follows a hired assassin who constantly grapples with the mental discipline of his work, offering a new perspective to his filmography. The killer’s process is examined, from using fake passports and IDs, safe houses, methods of infiltration, and even the internal mantras required to keep him on track during his work. Each chapter serves a different purpose in the narrative as the Killer ponders his relationship with his work, building up to explain The Killer’s ending.
6 Chapter 1: Paris/The Target
The Killer stakes out his intended target in Paris.
The film opens amid an ongoing contract hit. The Killer has been sent to Paris to assassinate what appears to be a wealthy business rival or politician interfering with the work of the Client, aka Claybourne. For the purpose of the movie, this man is only known as the Target. The first chapter primarily focuses on the Killer’s narration as the viewer is welcomed into his world and led to understand his routine. His internal monologue establishes him as a stone-cold professional capable of completing his work cleanly and efficiently, which the film will heavily contradict.
What the Killer doesn’t expect is that the Target brings a woman into the room with him. The Killer lines up his shot on the Target, but the woman steps in the way at the last moment. The bullet fires through her, and blood splatters onto the Target. The Killer realizes he’s taken out the wrong person, immediately packs up, and begins his escape. This moment of incompetence is the film’s inciting incident, showing that his narrative is subjective and that he isn’t as meticulous as he’d make it seem.
5 Chapter 2: Dominican Republic/The Hideout
The Killer returns home to find his home broken into and his girlfriend in the hospital.
After the initial assassination is botched, the Killer returns to his hideout in the Dominican Republic. There, he finds that his home has been broken into and violence has occurred. For his failure to eliminate the Target, two assassins were sent to take out the Killer at his house, though they only found his girlfriend. She resisted giving him up and was violently injured and hospitalized by the Brute because of it. The Killer meets his girlfriend in the hospital where she’s recovering and claims to her brother that she won’t be in danger again, setting out to fulfill that promise.
The Killer sets out to gather information on his girlfriend’s assailants. He mails a package to Dolores in New Orleans, setting up his plan for Chapter 3. Then, he goes to the taxi cab service that allegedly drove the assassins to his house, finding information on the driver, Leo. He gets in a cab with Leo, questioning him about the likeness of the two killers before shooting Leo and setting out again. Chapter 2 sees the Killer questioning his commitment to his work, as it’s now gotten someone he cares about hurt.
4 Chapter 3: New Orleans/The Lawyer
The Killer sets out to eliminate his first target, the assassin handler Hodges.
Most of The Killer’s deaths happen in New Orleans, as Fassbender’s character arrives to tie up loose ends with Hodges, the man who initially brought him into the business. Hodges is the handler who serves as a middleman between clients and assassins and is the one who hired the Brute and Expert to kill the Killer. The Killer infiltrates Hodges’ office through the package he sent from the Dominican Republic, disguising himself, following a FedEx delivery guy into the building, and sneaking into the office.
He ties up Dolores and Hodges and extracts information from them before killing them both. In terms of his career as a hired assassin, he’s killing his employer, making it clear that he won’t be returning to life the way it was. In one of the film’s unexpectedly funny moments, Hodges dies much quicker than the Killer had calculated, proving that David Fincher’s new film is a comedy disguised as an action thriller.
3 Chapter 4: Florida/The Brute
The Killer takes out a violent, hulking assassin.
Chapter 4 is the most action-packed sequence in the film, as the Killer arrives in Florida to take out the Brute. The chapter is about the unexpected danger and violence of his work, as his careful planning is interrupted when he’s tackled to the floor by his larger target. Rather than set up a clean kill, the Killer is forced to fight for his life, nearly perishing at multiple points. He narrowly avoids death, kills the Brute, and then burns down the house with a Molotov cocktail on the way out to remove any evidence of what occurred.
2 Chapter 5: New York/The Expert
The Killer finds his next target in New York.
The Killer travels to New York, still hurt from his fight with the Brute, looking to finish off the second assassin who was involved in hurting his girlfriend. Tilda Swinton’s character, the Expert, is the next target, whom the Killer finds dining at a fancy restaurant in upstate New York. Their encounter isn’t violent, as she instead engages him with existential questions about the nature of their work, questioning his commitment to killing. Despite claiming to accept her fate, the Expert attempts to trick him by faking a fall and asking him to help her up. He shoots her instead, revealing a dagger, affirming his “Trust no one” rule.
1 Chapter 6: Chicago/The Client
The Killer carries out his final mission in Chicago.
The final chapter of The Killer takes audiences to Chicago for the last hit. Importantly, before going after the Client, aka Claybourne, the Killer goes to a bank and transfers his wealth out of his American accounts, affirming that he’s planning to leave the assassin’s life behind. After preparing his exit from the States for good, he stalks Claybourne, working his way into the billionaire’s home.
A brief conversation with Claybourne reveals that the man had no part in sending assassins to the Killer’s home and wasn’t even aware of who he was. The Killer decides not to eliminate his last target, as killing a billionaire would likely prompt unwanted attention, and Claybourne doesn’t seem to pose a threat to his life. The Killer returns to the Dominican Republic to live out his days after sparing his final target.
The Killer (2023)
- Release Date:
- David Fincher
- Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Kerry O’Malley, Charles Parnell, Lacey Dover, Monique Ganderton, Sala Baker
- 118 Minutes
- Action, Adventure, Crime
- Andrew Kevin Walker
- Story By:
- Alexis Nolent, Luc Jacamon
- Plan B Entertainment, Boom! Studios