You can find many unique peculiarities in The Killer, the movie released on Netflix in November 2023. Michael Fassbender interprets a phlegmatic hitman who fails to kill his target and becomes a victim of the “cleanup mission” aimed at taking him out. His character keeps sharing philosophical perspectives on life, becoming a fascinating movie element. And the soundtrack does nothing but highlight his uniqueness: he uses music as a “useful distraction,” The Smiths dominate his playlist, and seeing how their songs are used in the key moment of the movie becomes an exercise you just must do.
The soundtrack for The Killer was curated by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, a well-renowned pair of musical score creators who have collaborated with director David Fincher in The Social Network, Gone Girl, and Mank. Their signature is represented by those atmospheric, dark-ambient tracks you hear in the film. Besides them, the movie soundtrack includes several emblematic songs aimed at marking the importance of the critical scenes, like Portishead’s Glory Box or Crewsont’s Another Level. The full soundtrack for The Killer is available here on Youtube.
However, the actual musical protagonists of The Killer are The Smiths. Michael Fassbender plays them constantly in all the critical moments of his job. It’s one of his tools to keep calm, slowing down his heartbeat when needed, and maintaining his focus on the target. The most memorable moment is probably the failed murder scene at the movie’s beginning: The Killer is ready to shoot at his appointed victim, The Smiths keep playing in his earplugs, and he repeats his mantra, prepared to kill. Unfortunately, things go wrong in that scene, leading to the plot’s development from that moment on. The song you hear on that occasion is How Soon Is Now?, released by The Smiths in 1985. You can listen to it below in full streaming.
The lyrics you hear in that particular scene are beautiful. You can find them below:
There’s a club if you’d like to go
You could meet somebody who really loves you
So you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own
And you go home and you cry and you want to die
How Soon Is Now? is about someone who doesn’t feel special but wants to be loved. In the lyrics above, he tries to hang out with strangers he meets in a club. However, despite all his efforts, loneliness dominates his life, generating the depressive thoughts you read in the last lines. It’s undoubtedly a song that mirrors the Killer’s character in the movie, connecting with his philosophy, feeling different than others.
Many other songs by The Smiths appear in the soundtrack of The Killer. They are all part of the protagonist’s special playlist on his portable player. It states “work playlist” and makes its appearance two minutes after the film’s beginning, clearly showing the killer’s passion for the English rock band. Well I Wonder is the first song in that playlist; you can hear it while he observes life in the streets of Paris.
This is the full “work playlist” in the killer’s players, with all the songs by The Smiths featured in the 2023 movie:
Well I Wonder
I Know It’s Over
How Soon Is Now
Hand In Glove
Bigmouth Strikes Again
Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now
Girlfriend In A Coma
Shoplifters of the World Unite
This Charming Man
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Each of those songs becomes crucial in the movie’s most memorable moments. To some extent, the music from The Smiths perfectly expresses the killer’s solitude, his outcast attitude, and his being “apart.” There Is a Light That Never Goes Out is the song featured in the ending credits, and it’s again about trying to live while still thinking about death. The song starts in a meaningful moment of its lyrics, when Morrissey sings about accidental death:
And if a double-decker bus crashes into us
To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die
And if a ten-tonne truck kills the both of us
To die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine