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The Killer on OTT: Iconic films, personalities that inspired David Fincher's crime thriller

David Fincher talks about the various classics that influenced the mood and the look of The Killer, his new crime thriller set to debut on OTT this November.

The Killer on OTT: Iconic films, personalities that inspired David Fincher's crime thriller
Michael Fassbender in & as 'The Killer'

Last Updated: 01.27 PM, Nov 07, 2023


"You can't make an assassin movie without, at least, referencing it," said David Fincher in a recent conversation with the British Film Institute, while discussing what or who inspired him to make The Killer. 

The film he is referring to, of course, is Jean Pierre Melville's cult classic 'Le Samourai' in which Alain Delon, as the suited assassin Jef Costello, must protect himself not just from the police but also from a gang of assassins after a job goes awry. Costello is an extremely skilful hitman, no doubt, but the stakes are higher and more personal than ever which means that he has to be crafty in a whole new way. 

In many ways, Le Samourai is a subversion of the genre and still stands tall as a seminal piece of work in that regard, only because of the mastery exuded by Melville. The French auteur imbues his film with such meditative, stagnating tension that you find it palpable and although we are dealing with cops, assassins and killers, the action entirely lies in the long silences of the film.


Fincher's 'The Killer', though, seems a different beast but we will learn more about the film when it makes its international OTT debut on Netflix on November 10. The film, by those select few who have caught it already, is being compared to Le Samourai for evoking the same kind of stillness and simplicity, and the 'Social Network' director, quite gracefully, does not shy away from naming the 1967 French classic as one of his main inspirations.

In another conversation with Letterboxd, he also names the Charles Bronson action-thriller 'The Mechanic' as one of the inspirations, along with Mike Hodges' cult British gangster film 'Get Carter' starring Michael Caine.

"It's a melange," says David Fincher to suggest that his insights for 'The Killer' were borrowed from not one but plenty of scattered sources. "We don't really, like, sit down and have movie night and go through influences," he adds.

But the reason that sets Fincher apart from anyone else around is the fact that he is open to unlikely, out-of-the-box ideas stemming from all kinds of places. For instance, Michael Fassbender (in the titular role in The Killer) looks anything like an assassin and instead carries the vibe of an urban explorer with his muted jackets, fedora hats and sunglasses. Turns out, he wanted to model the character after the irreplaceable Hunter S. Thompson who was famous for his 'Gonzo' style of fashion - a blend of the utility of a golfer's clothing and the vibrancy of a Hawaiian tourist.

The 'Gonzo' style of Hunter S. Thompson in 'The Killer'
The 'Gonzo' style of Hunter S. Thompson in 'The Killer'

"It’s the weirdest get-up, but he just blended in. I didn’t go into it going, ‘The world needs the next great assassin to look like Hunter S. Thompson.’ I just thought, ‘Oh, yeah. People are always ignoring tourists,’” said Fincher in his conversation with Empire.

And that's the birth of the new-age assassin.

Adapted for the screen by Andrew Kevin Walker, The Killer also stars Arliss Howard, Charles Parnell, Kerry O'Malley, Sala Baker, Sophie Charlotte, and Tilda Swinton. The film follows a nameless, methodical and emotionally detached assassin-for-hire who embarks on a deadly international manhunt after a hit goes wrong. Here's the trailer:

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