Netflix’s ‘The Killer’ begins with an efficient assassin making a blunder by botching his assignment and then running for his life. The unnamed killer is seen waiting for about a week for its target to show up at an unspecified time. The wait feels so long that he starts to wonder whether the target will ever show up. While talking to the audience about his job and his work ethic, the Killer reveals that he tries not to get too much into the details of the job. He remains blissfully unaware of his clients and why he needs to kill a target. Despite all the ups and downs in his journey, the film still keeps those details hidden from the audience, for the most part. SPOILERS AHEAD
The Client and The Target are Intentionally Out of Focus in The Killer
Whenever we watch a movie about spies or assassins who are sent on a particular mission to dupe or kill someone, some part of the story is dedicated to introducing the audience to the target and the person who wants them dead. This dynamic is given enough space for the audience to understand the stakes for the assassin, who is often nothing more than a middleman. ‘The Killer,’ however, doesn’t tread that path.
Michael Fassbender’s unnamed killer makes it clear that he is not interested in the intricacies behind the nature of his job. He has made it a rule not to kill anyone he is not paid for, and if he is paid to kill someone, then he must get the job done without pondering over the morality of his actions. He doesn’t care whether he is working for the good side or the bad side. He just doesn’t care about any of that. This is why the film spends more time exploring his boredom as we watch him wait for the target instead of giving us the rundown of who the Killer has been hired to kill.
For a good part, the film doesn’t bother to tell us about the client either. By now, the Killer is focused on weeding out everyone who had a hand in breaking into his house and assaulting his girlfriend. It isn’t until he has killed his employer and the two assassins who broke into his house that he makes his way to the client, who must have given the order to kill him. It is because of this that we find out that the client is a billionaire named Claybourne. He is very famous, and even the Killer is surprised to find out that he has been hired by Claybourne. This is why perhaps he makes it a point not to bother with who has hired him. He doesn’t want the context to meddle with his mind and ruin the job.
While we get a name for the client, we still get no information about the target. Most likely, he was a competitor that Claybourne wanted to get rid of. We do also know that the target was rich and influential, given that he had personal security accompanying him. Claybourne mentions that this was his first time hiring an assassin to kill someone, which indicates that whatever trouble he was in might have been so severe that he had no other way to deal with the problem. He is a billionaire, and it’s not difficult to assume that he could have had his troubles disappear by simply throwing the right amount at the right people. He reached out to his lawyer, Hodges, and tried to get the job done, which suggests that his connection with the target might have been more personal in nature.
Whatever the relationship between the target and the client, we don’t find out much about the target for the simple reason that the protagonist of the story doesn’t care about him at all. The film takes place from the perspective of the Killer, and with him taking center stage, whatever matters to him finds a place in the narration. He is more concerned about his rules, which he repeats quite a several times to us. But he is completely unconcerned with the identity of his target and the reason he has been hired to kill him, so he doesn’t discuss that even once with the audience.