David Fincher’s new psychological thriller The Killer stars Michael Fassbender as a nameless hired killer whose world comes crashing down when he botches a job and accidentally shoots the wrong person.


And when he finds that his girlfriend has been tortured and hospitalised as payback for his mistake, he decides to seek revenge, heading out on an international manhunt.

One by one, he goes after everyone involved in the attack – from a taxi driver who had been an (unwitting?) accomplice, to the man who had arranged the hit – and brutally dispatches them in a number of different ways.

Read on for everything you need to know about the ending of The Killer, including what it all means, according to cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt.

The Killer ending explained: Why does he spare the client?

After separately meeting and killing the two assassins in the movie, a brutish man (Sala Baker) and a more refined woman (Tilda Swinton), the killer's final port of call is the client who had ordered the hit he'd messed up in the first place, who had presumably then ordered the retaliatory mark on the killer's girlfriend.

The client is a billionaire hedge fund manager named Claybourne, who explains to the killer that he was simply startled after the original hit had gone wrong and had been persuaded to "tie up loose ends" – although he hadn't known what that would actually entail.

Perhaps surprisingly, the killer accepts this version of events and spares Claybourne, although he does leave him with a warning that he will kill him should he learn of any new attempts on his or his girlfriend's lives.

Eventually, the Killer leaves and returns to his home in the Dominican Republic, where he is reunited with his now recovering girlfriend.

And in a final voiceover, he declares that he is now "one of the many" rather than "one of the few", as he had been before.

Tilda Swinton as The Expert in The Killer wearing a white outfit
Tilda Swinton as The Expert in The Killer. Netflix

If you're wondering about the further meaning of the film, then you're in good company.

Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com ahead of release, cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt explained that when he was first sent the script, he was a little unsure about what it all meant.

"To be honest with you, I was a bit confused about what the film was about, initially," he said.

"I needed some clarification from him [Fincher]. You know, is this about sociopathy? Is it meant to be really exciting? What are we...? And he said, 'Don't look for the theme. The film is about process, about process and procedure.'"

Messerschmidt added: "It's precise when the character is precise, and it's messy when he's distraught, and that really intrigued me.

"I think it was just sort of... all of the conversations we had, for the most part, on the movie were about the structure of the scenes, as it pertains to photography of them and where we would put the camera and how we would use the camera, and he was so much about his point of view.

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"And, you know, the idea of the kind of... I like to call it the omniscient ghost, that you're in this room with someone who never lets anyone very close to them, and suddenly you're in a position to watch their process and they're not performing the way we do in social settings, he's just by himself. And that really interested me."

The Killer is now streaming on Netflix. Sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

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