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That selection of music makes the film

David Fincher’s “The Killer”: The neoliberal assassin Listen to The Smiths

2023.11.24

#MOVIE

The Killer. Michael Fassbender as an assassin in The Killer. Cr. Netflix ©2023
The Killer. Michael Fassbender as an assassin in The Killer. Cr. Netflix ©2023


David Fincher, renowned for directing films like “Seven,” “Fight Club,” and “Gone Girl,” has unveiled his latest project, “The Killer,” sparking significant interest. In this 8th installment of the series “The Music Selection Creates the Movie,” music director and critic Yuji Shibasaki explores the film’s use of tracks from The Smiths, a band synonymous with 1980s Britain.

*Caution: This article contains depictions of the film’s content. Please be mindful before reading further.

Harmony of Tension and Witty Brilliance

Released globally on November 10th, exclusively on Netflix, David Fincher’s newest film, “The Killer,” draws inspiration from the French graphic novel of the same name. This noir masterpiece, true to its title, revolves around an assassin. Known for crafting numerous masterpieces centered on the theme of murder, Fincher’s latest work is eagerly awaited and has already garnered acclaim from diverse sources.

After a three-year hiatus from the film industry, Michael Fassbender returns, portraying the titular assassin, known as “The Killer.” Fassbender adeptly embodies the role of a reserved criminal, leveraging his natural expressive abilities. Penned by Andrew Kevin Walker, known for his exceptional work on Fincher’s films, the screenplay weaves a captivating narrative, blending tension with a substantial dose of humor. Utilizing monologues, the film breathes life into the assassin’s distinctive character.

True to Fincher’s reputation as a perfectionist, the film boasts exceptional visual and compositional beauty in its intricate details. The vivid depiction of violence, coupled with expert direction, cinematography, and editing, subtly engages and unsettles the viewer’s psyche. The film’s restrained tone exudes dignity, evoking memories of crime films crafted by French master filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville, particularly those starring Alain Delon.

The Killer. Michael Fassbender as an assassin in The Killer.


The music deserves special mention, with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, longstanding collaborators with Fincher, delivering an exceptional score for the film. Their ability to elicit, soothe, and occasionally purify the suspense is truly virtuosic. Adding to the film’s distinctiveness is its incorporation of pop music, which may wield such influence over the audience that it can be deemed a “quasi-leading role.”

As previously revealed, the film features a substantial number (as many as 11!) of songs by The Smiths, a legendary British rock band from the 1980s, adding a “funny” dimension to the soundtrack.

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