The Assassin’s Creed video game movie adaptation is directed by Justin Kurzel and reunites the filmmaker with several of his collaborators on his acclaimed Macbeth (2015) adaptation; including, co-writer Michael Lesslie, stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, and cinematographer Adam Arkpaw. Going from adapting a play by William Shakespeare to bringing a highly-popular Ubisoft gaming IP is certainly an unusual move on Kurzel’s part, but also one that suggests that in his hands, Assassin’s Creed could be something special – and not just by the (admittedly, low) standards of video game-inspired cinema, either.
Assassin’s Creed takes place in the same continuity as the original video games and revolves around one Callum Lynch (Fassbender), a Death Row inmate who heads into his execution only to wake up and find himself the “guest” (read: prisoner) of Abstergo Industries: a multi-conglomerate corporation and the front for the centuries-old Templar order. As Lynch learns more about the Templars and their longtime war against the equally-secret Assassins organization, he discovers his role in all this; he is the descendant of one such master Assassin who lived in 15th century Spain, named Aguilar.
Callum doesn’t actually know anything about the Assassins in the present-day (not being a member himself), which is where the Animus comes into play. The latter is a device that allows Callum to relive the memories of Aguilar, as a means for him to gain his ancestor’s skills and knowledge – the information that the Templars are after. 20th Century Fox has now released the first clip from the Assassin’s Creed movie online, showing Callum being “plugged” into the Animus for the first time, as Abstergo co-head Dr. Sophia Rikkin (Cotillard) looks on. Give it a watch, above.
Both this clip and the concept behind the Animus invite comparisons to The Matrix (see again, Callum being “plugged” into the Animus) – though where characters in that landmark sci-fi film didn’t gain the same fighting abilities in the real world that they had developed within the Matrix itself, Callum will retain many of the skills and abilities that he learns by experiencing history through Aguilar. The majority of Assassin’s Creed takes place in the present-day and not the past (which, fittingly, will be in the Spanish language), so this plot point will allow Fassbender to participate in slick fights and close-quarter combat sequences as both Callum and Aguilar.
The (often practical) stunts and action in Assassin’s Creed have been highlighted throughout the film’s marketing, as has the movie’s intriguing sci-fi meets historical adventure genre concept – which itself comes from the original video games, of course. It seems fair to assume at this point that the spectacle and world-building in Kurzel’s adaptation will be up to scratch, based on what’s been shown to date. The question, then, is whether or not the film’s characters will be equally compelling. If they are, then Assassin’s Creed may yet be able to break the video game movie “curse,” like everyone is hoping it will.