Fincher found no complaints from his leading man, who wasn’t in Venice because of the SAG-AFTRA strike: “Michael’s cool. He was not freaked out about having to look a little dorky.” And that aesthetic extends even to the Killer’s escape from a botched job, which takes place not via high-speed car chase but with a zippy little motor scooter, though Fincher considered taking that sequence in an even dweebier direction. “At one point, we even debated the Razor scooter,” he said, nixing that only because it wouldn’t perform well during a stair stunt.
So though the Killer remains a mystery to himself, at least one thing can be said for sure of this indifferently dressed man: He ain’t exactly John Wick.
“The $3,000 suit seems like it’s played out,” Fincher said. Still, he was surprised to find someone wearing his protagonist’s silly headwear in another recent assassin movie: “It’s funny because when Pitt told me he had selected a bucket hat for ‘Bullet Train,’ I was like, ‘OK, dude, you’re stepping into our sandbox.’”
Though Fincher has a skill for image-making that extends back to the music videos he directed for the likes of Madonna, with “The Killer,” he was more interested in dismantling that sort of cinematic iconography. Instead of a glamorous lair, Fassbender’s character keeps his weapons in a mundane storage locker, and instead of using high-tech gadgets to break into targets’ homes, he orders key-duplication tools off Amazon.
“I was like, ‘I want James Bond by way of Home Depot,’” Fincher said. “By the end of this, you should be like, who’s the guy in the rental car line with you, and why is he wearing that outdated hat? You ignore the German tourist at your peril.”
And while the movies would have us believe that the world is full of clever, high-flying assassins, Fincher sought to ground his character’s tunnel vision in a more mundane reality. “I love the idea of a Charles Bronson character who’s maybe misdiagnosed adult autistic,” he said. “And before 2023, I’m not sure anybody would have gone, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’”