As “The Killer” opens, Fassbender’s anonymous hitman (he uses several aliases throughout the flick, all of which seem to be the names of sitcom characters) is waiting. And waiting. And waiting. It seems like much of his job is about sitting around, waiting for the right moment to strike. He’s camped out in a WeWork office (one of several brand-name locations that pop up throughout the film to clash with the nameless nature of its protagonist) in France, waiting to kill his latest target. At last, his opportunity arises. He methodically prepares, assembling his weapon, getting into place, taking aim. And then — he botches it. The hit goes wrong, and the Killer has to quickly get the hell out of there, which he does in thrilling fashion — part of the film’s fun is in watching how Fincher and cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt present us with the main character performing a series of tasks efficiently.
The Killer returns to his home base in the Dominican Republic to find that assassins looking for him have badly beaten his girlfriend. Now he has an option — he can easily walk away, he’s certainly prepared for that and clearly has enough money to do whatever he wants. Instead, he heads back to the U.S. on a state-hopping, blood-soaked adventure to kill anyone who might want to kill him.
Is he seeking revenge for the violence against his girlfriend? No, I don’t think so. The character is a sociopath so it’s not clear how much he genuinely cares about his love interest. Instead, I think this journey is all about smoothing over wrinkles; this man is a perfectionist, and outside influences have mussed up his usual routine. He can’t have that. People have to die so he can go back to his usual way of life.