Netflix’s ‘The Killer’ is a meticulous, no-nonsense story of a meticulous, no-nonsense assassin who is deeply unattached to his work. His mantra is to get the job done, get out, and not think about it too much, lest he ends up botching things. But at the beginning of the film, we find him doing exactly that— botching the one thing he was sent to do and spent about a week waiting around for. After this, the dominos fall, and the Killer is forced to break another of his many rules: the job becomes personal.
‘The Killer’ is told from the first-person perspective, where the audience gets to be inside the protagonist’s mind. We are privy to his lengthy monologues, which are often the only dialogue that the film has. This reveals a lot about who he is as a person, but it barely gives away any information to identify him, including his name. SPOILERS AHEAD
Why We Never Find Out the Killer’s Real Name?
One of the rules that Michael Fassbender’s Killer sticks to is “trust no one.” Always being suspicious of people keeps him on his toes and even ensures his survival. It is also one of the reasons why, despite sharing his most intimate thoughts with the audience, the Killer doesn’t reveal his actual name to the audience. He just doesn’t trust us.
The Killer is an enigma. He is an everyday man, one who goes unnoticed and carries out his job from the shadows, often making things look such that he cannot take credit for anything. When he talks to the audience about his work, what it demands from him, and how he goes about it, he comments that a person should consider them lucky if they never cross paths with him. So, he chooses to keep his anonymity so that he and the audience don’t develop empathy for each other because they’ve shared so much.
The Killer’s Aliases Hint at His Love For Sitcoms
While we never get to hear the Killer’s real name, he does reveal a barrage of his aliases to us, using a different one every time he needs to show his identity. Even in that, he reveals something about himself to the audience. All the names that he uses are the characters from popular sitcoms from the 70s. The first alias he uses is to get out of Paris. His boarding pass shows Felix Unger, which is a German-sounding name, and it makes sense because he’d mentioned that he used the persona of a German tourist while working in Paris. Interestingly, Felix Unger is also the name of one of the leads in the 1970s sitcom, ‘The Odd Couple.’
The next name he uses is Archibald Bünker, which, again, sounds a bit German. This is also the name of the lead character in another 1970s sitcom, ‘All in the Family.’ The pattern starts to show with the Killer’s third alias, Oscar Madison, another character from ‘The Odd Couple.’ Then comes Howard Cunningham, the father of the lead character in ‘Happy Days.’ His following aliases are also characters from the 70s and 80s sitcoms: Reuben Kincaid from ‘The Partridge Family,’ Lou Grant from the sitcom of the same name, Sam Malone from ‘Cheers,’ George Jefferson from ‘All in the Family’ and Robert Hartley from ‘The Bob Newhart Show.’
For someone who doesn’t want to attract attention to himself, it seems sloppy on the Killer’s part to use names from popular sitcoms. Luckily, no one notices it, and he slips in and out of a situation without catching anyone’s attention. Using these names as aliases shows that the Killer might have an affinity for 70s sitcoms, much like his love for The Smiths, whose songs he is always playing while on the job. It’s just an unintentional slip on his part, giving away what he likes to the audience, or perhaps, a way to show a part of himself without actually spelling it out for us.