- Assassin's Creed release date: December 21, 2016 (US)/January 1, 2017 (UK)
- Director: Justin Kurzel
- Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Ariane Labed, Michael Kenneth Williams, Brendan Gleeson
- Writers: Bill Collage, Adam Cooper
Update: September 23 - The Assassin's Creed movie's historical sequences are all in Spanish
Like subtitles? Good. In his quest for realism for the historical Spanish Inquisition sequences of the movie, director Justin Kurzel has shot all of them in Spanish. All was revealed in an exclusive interview in the new issue of Total Film Magazine. “I just love the fact [production company] New Regency embraced it,” Kurzel explains. “We did play around with English as well, but it was really obvious what you wanted as soon as you went back and started speaking beautiful Spanish. It really adds an exoticness and richness to the film.” Check out the below exclusive behind the scenes image of Michael Fassbender as 15th century Aguilar.
Update: September 23 - The Assassin's Creed movie's robot arm Animus might end up in the games
If there was one glaring difference from the games in the Assassin's Creed movie trailer it's the huge animatronic arm that's swinging Michael Fassbender's Assassin around. The games feature a much more sedate sofa so what's the deal? In the new issue of Total Film Magazine, Michael Fassbender explains that the original just wasn't cinematic enough but that the movie version of the Animus might actually end up in future Assassin's Creed games. “For ages, we were like, ‘What are we going to do with the Animus?’" he says. “At one point I thought of this idea where we’d be in a fluid tank, almost like a womb. But what the guys came up with is fantastic. Ubisoft are talking about putting it in their future games.”
Update: September 13 - New Assassin's Creed movie images might reveal a serious spoiler
New Assassin's Creed movie images from The Playlist have revealed a potential spoiler. You can read the full story and see all the images herebut one in particular shows Fassbender's Callum Lynch in the clothing of his ancestor Aguilar in a modern day setting. This might just hint at an escape from Abstergo with Lynch dressed in his fifteenth century Assassin's hood and outfit. Either that or he's just playing dress up but I think it's probably the former.
The Assassin's Creed movie is a video game film with a difference
First off, let’s try and get that ‘video game movies are bad’ mantra out of your head. Ok, there’s been a little too much Uwe Boll and yes, I know the Resident Evil movies aren’t even close to the games, and oh God we won’t even talk about Silent Hill 2 but - and this is a seriously big but - this time things look a little different.
Unlike other video game movies, Assassin’s Creed has specifically been created by its own developer, Ubisoft, which now has its own motion picture branch. Plus, it has one of this generation’s most wanted actors, Michael Fassbender, in not one but two starring roles. Oh, and he’s producer too, alongside Macbeth director Justin Kurzel. Is that, could it be? Hope? From what I saw so far on my Assassin's Creed movie set visit and then watching the first fifteen minutes of the Assassin's Creed movie, I’m feeling confident.
There's not swathes of green screen at work for one thing. Kurzel and Fassbender were actually out in the Spanish desert, pitting Templars and Assassins against each other, and Kurzel wanted to do as many genuine action sequences as possible. This meant that stunt man Damien Walters did an actual wire-free Eagle dive from 125 ft. Check it out below. I was there and my heart was in my mouth the whole time. This is definitely Assassin’s Creed with all the fast paced free-running and close combat you’d want but, crucially, there’s a focus on story that’ll make this properly work as a film.
The Assassin's Creed movie release date has been pushed back... a lot
The release date for the Assassin's Creed movie has been jumping all over the place. When the movie was first announced in May 2013, its release was set for May 22, 2015, but was then pushed back to June 19, 2015. In case you didn’t notice, that release didn’t happen. In November 2013, the movie was pushed back again to August 7, 2015, and then when September rolled around, it was delayed to an unspecified 2016 release date. Not great news for fans.
The unspecified 2016 release date turned out to be December 21, 2016 for US audiences and December 26, 2016 for the UK. If you thought the story was over though, sorry, but it’s just recently been announced that UK audiences will now have to wait for 2017 to see the video game movie adaptation. While the US (and most of the rest of the world) have managed to hold onto that December 21, 2016 date, the UK will bring in the new year with the Assassin’s Creed movie on January 1, 2017 - almost two years after its first set release date.
The Assassin's Creed movie trailer includes a leap of faith
The first Assassin's Creed movie trailer dropped back in May and it did not disappoint. You can watch it below, and as we said at the time:
"It might be a time period we've never seen in the games but Macbeth director Justin Kurzel has managed to get in plenty of 360 viewpoints, eagles and free running action to make us feel at home in the Spanish Inquisition."
There was just one thing bothering us about the trailer though, and that was the music. It just didn't feel quite right. So naturally, we changed it. We swapped Kanye's song for Iron by Woodkid, the track previously used for Revelation’s brilliant E3 trailer, and it fit surprising well with the on-screen action.
While we haven't had an official second trailer since then, Ubisoft and 20th Century Fox did release some new footage in a behind-the-scenes featurette which debuted at E3. Watch it below...
The Assassin's Creed movie's plot is set more in the present than the past
Unlike the games, Assassin’s Creed is going to spend a significant amount of time in the 21st century. According to producer Patrick Crowley, 65% of the movie is going to take place in the modern day and tell the story of Callum Lynch, a death row prisoner who is ‘executed’ and wakes up in Abstergo. Marion Cotillard’s Sophia Rikkin assures him that she’s there to help when he groggily wakes up but that means plugging him into the Animus - now an incredible mechanised arm - that forces Lynch to relive the memories of his ancestor Aguilar.
While Sophia genuinely thinks she’s helping - furthering her own research into the Assassins - her father, Alan Rikkin (a seriously evil Jeremy Irons), the head of 21st century Templar corporation Abstergo, is planning something a little more sinister with the memories. Spanish Inquisition battling Aguilar was the last one in contact with an object known as The Artefact and Rikkin, like the Knights Templar in the 15th century, wants it for his own.
If you haven’t played the games, imagine the Templars as the definition of ‘nefarious’ in the dictionary. Let’s put it simply - he won’t want it for good. It has now been confirmed that The Artefact is, like the source material, one of the many Apples of Eden, ancient artefacts crafted by a species known as 'Those Who Came Before'. Best to Google, otherwise I'm going to have to explain that Adam & Eve were alien prisoners and you're not going to read anymore.
Lynch’s leap into the past to experience the life of Aguilar means he’ll see the Fall of Granada and the atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition, all under the watchful and evil eye of the very real Tomas de Torquemada. Aguilar is joined by Assassin Maria, another Master Assassin who is just as deadly with hidden blades and joins him in some dramatic free running sequences across the Spanish skyline. This all contributes to what’s known as the Bleeding Effect in the 21st century. Going through the motions of his ancestor in the past, Lynch learns the ways of the Assassins, becoming deadly in the future as well as the past.
Given the fact that Lynch isn’t the only Assassin locked up in Abstergo learning via the Bleeding Effect, you can probably guess that all isn’t going to stay happy for the future-dwelling Templars. What can possibly go wrong when you train a team of people to be as deadly as their hooded ancestors? Hmmm….. These extra Assassins will drive lore fans mad too as we've worked out which video game Assassins will be in the Assassin's Creed movie.
Is the Assassin's Creed movie an adaptation of the game?
The key to the Assassin’s Creed movie having any sense of new identity is that this isn’t a direct adaptation of any of the games. The joy of the series is its ability to jump through historical time periods with the Animus, a handy machine that lets modern day dwellers revisit the memories of their genetic ancestors. This means that while the adventures of Assassins Ezio, Edward, Connor, Arno et al can all still be true, Eagle diving into a different time period is entirely permitted and means more ways to forge something interesting and break new ground.
Kurzel and Fassbender therefore have a whole new world to play with in 15th century Spain during the Spanish Inquisition and can focus on making that entirely unique and new. Of course, while Assassin Aguilar De Nehra and his future-dwelling descendant Callum Lynch are completely fresh and haven’t been seen in the series so far, we can still expect to see all the hallmarks of the Brotherhood. “We don’t really draw any parallels to the game in terms of those characters at all [but] we’re staying true to the games with the core things – the Animus and the DNA memory of the characters and the artefacts,” explained Michael Fassbender on my trip to the set of Assassin’s Creed. “That is enough information to be sort of giving new audiences coming to it that don’t understand or haven’t played the games.”
The Assassin's Creed movie cast is a seriously stellar offering of talent
While Fassbender is obviously front and centre on Assassin past and present duty, there’s plenty of other talent on screen. Jeremy Irons chews up the scenery as Abstergo head Alan Rikkin and Marion Cotillard joins her Macbeth co star as Sophia Rikkin. Also on board is Brendan Gleeson as Joseph Lynch and The Wire’s Michael K. Williams as modern day Assassin Moussa who is genetically descended from Baptiste from Assassin's Creed Liberation.
Joining Aguilar in the Spanish Inquisition is French actress Ariane Labed as hooded freerunner Maria. When we caught up last year, Labed told me how excited she is about the character of Maria. “First of all I think the great [thing] is I’m the only woman around the guys, and I like the fact that it’s not a niche at all and she’s just a very good [character] and she’s a part of them,” she enthused. “I think what I loved in this character was that it was basically that she’s a great fighter and the fact that she’s a woman is just an component and that’s it. The quality is evident and they don’t have to make a big deal of it, so yeah – I think that’s a very strong sort of political thing as well, and I love that.”
Check out our full Assassin's Creed movie cast guide for a complete breakdown.
The Assassin's Creed's movie director is already thinking about sequels
There has been some discussion around Assassin's Creed movie sequels and director Justin Kurzel has been actively discussing it with Fassbender. "We were talking about it the other day," he says. "If we could find a period that, again, doesn’t feel like it’s repeating the game. And then you’ve got to think about how Michael would fit within that period and time. You really can create a whole new palette for the next film. The war between the Templars and the Assassins can be flipped and changed, so it provides some pretty unique takes on where you could take the story."
The Assassin's Creed movie director has already worked with the stars
So, who is Justin Kurzel? Kurzel came immediately from last year’s excellent Macbeth into working on Assassin’s Creed and he brought his stars, Fassbender and Cotillard along for the ride. Prior to Macbeth - which made Shakespeare even bloodier and cooler than ever - Kurzel directed intense drama Snowtown.
In a breath of fresh non-popcorn scented air, Kurzel’s definitely no Michael Bay. He focuses on characters, themes and drama. This time around, he’s got his eagle vision on reality. In a world of CGI, he’s putting his crew through the wringer in terms of real stunts.
“I think that’s what so great about the game is that it’s human endeavour, it’s not suddenly a superpower,” he explained last year. “We’re putting cameras on the blades so that it’s like a blade-cam. And that’s what we’re trying to do – all the stunts are being done in camera and they’re being done by some of the best stunt guys in the world. We’re just trying to as much as possible make it feel that it’s possible for a human being to be an Assassin.”
Combo this up with Kurzel’s passion for the psychological aspect of the Animus and the moral greys of the Assassin/Templar battle and he might just bring a heart to what could previously have just been a leap of faith from one sword fight to another. Plus, as Fassbender joked last year, there’s no risk in making a video game movie as “somebody’s got to do it right once, so we figured that the odds were stacked in our favour.” In this case, I might just be convinced.
Assassin's Creed movie poster will make you dizzy
The two Assassin's Creed movie posters that have been released so far could not be more spot on. In the first one, Michael Fassbender's character is standing atop a tall building, arms outspread, in a classic assassin's pose, ready to jump. The second shows his character just moments after the first in mid-air after making that leap of faith. Check them both out below...