The logline for The Killer is straightforward enough: "After a fateful near-miss, an assassin battles his employers and himself, on an international manhunt he insists isn't personal."
What David Fincher is attempting to do with the film is a bit more complicated. The three-time Oscar-nominated director (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network and Mank) has been working on an adaptation of The Killer since at least 2007, and now finally brings the story to the screen with Michael Fassbender (himself a two-time Oscar nominee for 12 Years a Slave and Steve Jobs) as the eponymous hitman.
"The Killer is my attempt to reconcile notions I've had for years about cinematic stories and their telling. I have always held: 'What were you doing in Chinatown?... As little as possible' to be the single greatest evocation of backstory I've ever heard," Fincher says. "I was also playfully curious about the revenge genre as a tension delivery-system."
Fincher's Seven screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker wrote the screenplay based on the 1998 French graphic novels by Luc Jacamon and Alexis "Matz" Nolent. The supporting cast includes Charles Parnell, Arliss Howard, Sophie Charlotte, and Oscar winner Tilda Swinton.
"When Mr. Walker came aboard and fully embraced these notions/questions about broad brushstrokes of understanding giving way to the blind-stitch of 'moment expansion,' I felt we needed to try something," Fincher explains. "Mr. Fassbender's 3-hour response time for: 'Yes, let's!' sealed it for us both and, of course, we all wanted Tilda. (Mr. Walker wrote it with her in mind — but please don't tell Ms. Swinton, she could become insufferable if she knows literally everyone feels this way about her.)"
In addition to reuniting with Walker, The Killer reunites the director with Oscar-winning cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt (Mank), Oscar-winning film editor Kirk Baxter (The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Oscar-winning production designer Donald Graham Burt (Mank), and his Oscar-winning The Social Network composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who were also nominated for their Mank score and actually lost out the Oscar that year to themselves when they won for their Soul score).
Following its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, The Killer is in select theaters now and streaming on Netflix starting Nov. 10. Watch the trailer below.