With The Killer, David Fincher Did What Two Hitman Movies Could Not

With The Killer, David Fincher Did What Two Hitman Movies Could Not
Image credit: Netflix. Twentieth Century Fox, IO Interactive

The iconic video game franchise has been brought to the big screen twice, but The Killer is a better spiritual successor to the original than either of them.


  • The Killer turned out to be quite different from David Fincher's other works, but was still warmly received
  • The movie bears many surprising similarities to the Hitman video game franchise
  • Hitman has been brought to the big screen twice now, with equally disastrous results

David Fincher's latest film, The Killer, starring Michael Fassbender as the titular professional assassin, is quite different from the director's other works.

It is a much slower, even meditative story that follows the main character on his globe-trotting quest to deal with the consequences of the failure he experienced at the beginning of the movie.

While The Killer wasn't the most "Fincher-esque" of Fincher's films, though it was still warmly received by critics and fans, it surprisingly succeeded in a completely unexpected area by being the closest thing we have to an actually good movie adaptation of Hitman.

What Makes The Hitman Franchise So Unique?

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The Hitman video game franchise, developed by IO Interactive, is best described as a "professional assassin simulator" as it follows Agent 47, a bald clone created with the sole purpose of being the world's most efficient killer.

The games rely heavily on both classic and so-called "social stealth," with 47 constantly changing outfits to get into restricted areas.

Unlike many other stealth video games, Hitman games are more like puzzles, as the player must meticulously study the level and figure out the best way to eliminate the target, from slipping poison into their drink to orchestrating an elaborate fatal accident.

Although the player can "brute force" the level and just kill everyone in their way, it will be difficult and the reward will be significantly reduced, so when the guns start blazing, it usually means that something has gone terribly wrong.

Hitman Movies Completely Bastardized The Original Concept

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With such an intriguing concept, it is no wonder that Hollywood has tried to adapt Hitman to the big screen not once, but twice, only to fail miserably on both occasions.

The first attempt, simply titled Hitman, came out in 2007 with Timothy Olyphant portraying the clone assassin, but was decimated by both critics and fans for being nothing more than a dumb action flick with a cliched plot and terrible dialogue.

Eight years later, in 2015, a second film, Hitman: Agent 47, was released, completely ignoring the events of the previous one and this time starring Rupert Friend as the titular character.

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It somehow managed to get an even bigger backlash, was barely watchable for the same reasons, and buried any possibility of getting a decent Hitman movie in the future.

The biggest sin of these two adaptations, which only vaguely followed the plot of the original games, was that they completely ignored the most important aspect of the source material and turned out to be just like countless other action movies with constant shootouts and explosions.

But this is where David Fincher's The Killer comes in, because despite being based on a completely different source material, the French graphic novel series of the same name by Alexis Nolent, it did right what both Hitman movies did wrong.

The Killer Is Spiritually Very Similar To Hitman

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Michael Fassbender did a wonderful job of portraying a cold-blooded professional who avoids making things personal in his line of work and remains unperturbed most of the time, just like Agent 47.

A good portion of the movie is devoted to showing how he carefully prepares for the job, studying his targets and their surroundings, obtaining keys and other necessary items, and just calmly waiting for the right moment to strike.

The slow build-up of tension and the lack of traditional action (The Killer doesn't have a single shoot-out in its entire running time, and only one hand-to-hand combat), as well as the fact that the main character changes outfits and aliases like Agent 47, make the similarities even more obvious.

In addition, the occasional dark humor of The Killer, such as the unexpected restaurant scene with Tilda Swinton's character, also brings back memories of the iconic video game franchise, as the Hitman series also frequently features dark jokes.

With all that in mind, even though The Killer doesn't look like Hitman at first glance, if you're a fan of the video game franchise, you might love it even more for being a more faithful de facto adaptation than the official ones.

The Killer is currently streaming on Netflix.

Did you see parallels to Hitman while watching The Killer?