By virtue of its name, the long-gestating film adaptation of the popular video game franchise, Assassin’s Creed, certainly has some inventive, stealth-centric, action-packed expectations to meet. However, star Michael Fassbender (in describing a back-to-basics approach) actually perceives the film as a bit of a conceptual cousin to another iconic action film franchise.
In an interview with Empire, Fassbender discusses how the adapted premise of the Ubisoft video game series will translate thematically to the big screen. The Assassin’s Creed games pit players as an average guy who happens to come from a long ancestral line of assassins working for a secret society. The character is captured by a secret organization who wish to uncover clues to an ancient treasure hidden within memories from his assassin ancestors embedded in his very DNA. Subjected to a device called the Animus, he relives the historical, action-packed exploits of his (diverse) deadly, stealthy ancestors in real-time.
With that basic premise being the foundation for the film, as well, Fassbender describes the concept with a major cinematic name-drop. According to Fassbender:
“I’ve always thought about The Matrix when we’ve approached this. This idea of DNA memory elevates it from a basic fantasy genre [piece], because you have something an audience can actually believe in. Then the journey becomes so much more elevated, because you’re on board in a different way.”
Indeed, the sci-fi elements of the classic Assassin’s Creed story does contain some technological and metaphysical similarities to The Matrix. However, while that classic film series evoked the idea of life as an empirical illusion hiding a horrible true reality,Assassin’s Creed is arguably espousing the idea that our physical bodies are more connected to our hidden reality than we can truly comprehend. Arguably, they are opposite sides of the same coin.
Some storyline differences in the game-to-film translation will occur; notably with the name of the game’s genetic time traveling guinea pig protagonist in bartender Desmond Miles being changed to Callum Lynch. Moreover, the film will see Fassbender’s Lynch delving into his DNA as an ancestral iteration not yet featured in the game series as 15th century Spanish assassin, Aguilar. Yet, when it comes to the signature low-key stealth action and parkour-like stunts of the game series, the film will take an equally subtle approach. Describing the action as “old-school” Fassbender further explains of the sequences:
“There’s very little green screen in this, which is highly unusual in these films. We have stunt guys jumping across buildings in (Maltese capital) Valletta. We’ve got (stunt man) Damian Walters doing a 120-foot leap of faith, without any rope, into a bag, so it’s pretty incredible to see.”
In the director’s chair for Assassin’s Creed is helmer Justin Kurzel, who was actually behind the camera for Fassbender’s recent reinvented (and divisive) adaptation ofMacbeth. For Fassbender, who has been attached to this often-delayed project for years, the film represents an intriguing franchise that, much like the video games, will allow the hero to literally reinvent himself as a new character in each outing.
Assassin’s Creed gets ready to deliver some holiday bloodletting when it hits theaters on Dec. 21.