What I learned about being a killer from David Fincher’s The Killer

Michael Fassbender in The Killer, directed by David Fincher.
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David Fincher’s The Killer sees Michael Fassbender play an unnamed killer on the run – here’s everything we learned by watching him do his job.

Spoilers for The Killer lie ahead.

After helming 2020’s Mank, director David Fincher has returned to one of his favourite genres, the crime thriller. The Killer stars Michael Fassbender as an unnamed assassin. His character comes across as the archetypal hitman, with no conscience and an incredibly precise routine that ensures he gets the job done well.

There’s a lot to be learned from Fassbender’s killer, so we’ve compiled a handy list of all the conventional (and unconventional) tips you can pick up from him. You know, in case you ever want to go into that line of work. No judgement here – though you can read our review of the film, if you want some.

You need a degree in philosophy (Bachelor’s accepted, Master’s preferred)

If there’s one thing that characterises Michael Fassbender’s killer, it’s that he takes everything just a smidge too seriously. He repeats his routines to himself like a mantra. When he’s not doing that he’s pondering the big important questions about the nature of humanity. You probably wouldn’t expect a philosophy degree to lead to opportunities as a paid killer, but if Fincher’s film is any indication you need to be extremely well read to get into the profession. Bonus points if you like your nihilistic philosophers, so you’d better start learning your Nietzsche. You never know when you might need to quote him.

Listen to The Smiths

It kind of makes sense that someone paid to off people would listen to the unmistakable voice of Morrissey on repeat, doesn’t it? Some of the music from The Smiths may sound deceptively upbeat, but their lyrics paired with the song titles make them the perfect band for someone steeped in death. You should probably start with Girlfriend In A Coma, or maybe Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. If you’re not perfectly miserable after killing someone for money, heaven knows you will be after making The Smiths your murdering soundtrack.

Side note: music is also great for concentration, so a soundtrack will help you to focus. Unless, of course, you’re so busy jamming to The Smiths that you mess up big time. But that’s not too likely, right?

Get all of your gadgets on Amazon

A decent hardware store is all well and good, but for all your technological needs there’s only one place you should be going. Need to break into a building? Get a fob copier from Amazon. Don’t forget also to order it on Prime to get it the next day, and pick it up from an Amazon locker for maximum product placement. It’s also advisable to put the packaging in the recycling with the little smiley Amazon logo facing the camera. (Please note: if you are going to murder people for money, don’t do it in view of a camera).

Flexibility is key

Actually, what you need the most of is patience. The majority of being a hitman seems to involve waiting for your target to show up, but you need to keep yourself alert and focused during that time. The solution to staving off boredom? Yoga. Practice your poses, and you’ll be the most focused and flexible assassin around. That’s sure to come in handy if you need to dodge a few bullets.

Hawaiian shirts are the best camouflage

This might seem counter-intuitive, but if Michael Fassbender does it it must be correct. The key to blending in anywhere is, apparently, to make yourself look like a tourist. More specifically, a German tourist. Hawaiian shirts are admittedly a staple piece of holiday clothing, and are also very cool and colourful. Oddly, the best thing to match a Hawaiian shirt is for the rest of your outfit to be completely and utterly beige (although grey is also acceptable). Beige trousers, beige shoes, beige hat. Bonus points if the hat is ridiculous and unflattering. It doesn’t matter if the clothes are memorable, you just have to make people want to avoid you. I suppose that means that a clown costume would be equally effective, but maybe stick with the tourist disguise.

Michael Fassbender in The Killer, directed by David Fincher.

A tourist disguise pairs well with a McDonald’s breakfast. Credit: Netflix.

You need an endless supply of burner phones

This one might be fairly obvious if you’re a fan of crime thrillers, but it’s nonetheless important to point out. One phone is fine if you’re a law abiding citizen, but if you’re going to be having shady dealings over the phone then you’ll need a burner. Part of this job also presumably involves scouting out the locations of all nearby bins, just so you can make sure you’re standing near one at the end of your conversation. If there are no bins available, the best thing to do is crush the burner under the heel of one of your boring beige shoes. Don’t forget to buy a beige jacket that has a ton of pockets on the inside, so you can immediately pull out a replacement phone.

Also required: Many, many passports. The more aliases you can come up with, the better. You really should invest in those pockets.

Always hang up on your boss mid phone call

Because the best thing for your career is to royally piss off your boss. I guess there’s a limited number of people willing to kill for money, so you don’t particularly have to worry about job security. If you’re planning on being a Fassbender-esque, stoic assassin, it’s best to say very little on your phone calls anyway, especially not a pleasant goodbye. How else are you supposed to seem intimidating? Remember to crush the phone immediately after hanging up.

You’re gonna need a lot of detergent

Remember those beige shoes? They may make a great disguise, but they’re probably easily stained. Good luck getting blood out of those. Fassbender’s killer might have an unlimited supply of beige clothes, replacing them after every job. More likely, each of his storage units contains a washing machine. David Fincher probably thought we wouldn’t want to see a hitman doing constant loads of laundry. He was probably right.

The Killer is now streaming on Netflix.

Here’s our review video…

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