The Assassin’s Creed movie: New clips, the Animus in action, and everything you need to know

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Fast Facts:

  • 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 Nov 31, 2016*** Two new clips reveal more Assassin action in both the Spanish Inquisition and the 21st century

If you were wondering exactly how the action will play out in the past when Aguilar and fellow Assassin Maria aren't leaping off buildings, one of the Assassin's Creed movie clips shown at the Game Awards 2016 will answer all your questions. There's even some Spanish that shows what it'll be like reading a subtitled Fassbender. Not that you'll need to read much as Aguilar and Maria use more swords than words as they rescue a kidnapped prince from a Templar carriage. 

The second clip is in the much cleaner and more minimalist 21st century where Fassbender's Callum Lynch is plugging into the Animus for the first time. And yes the initial connection looks ridiculously painful. Marion Cotillard is "helping" him discover his past but she's unaware of the real reason Abstergo is delving into Lynch's genetic memories. That involves a certain artefact - more on that below - but for now, enjoy the clip. 

***UPDATE Nov 31, 2016*** The Assassin's Creed movie Animus looks exhausting and amazing in action

We've seen the amazing robot claw Animus before but watching it in action in a new video about the science of the genetic time travel device looks positively exhausting. Every move that Aguilar makes in the past is fully reflected by Callum in the 21st century and that means he goes through all the motions of fighting, climbing and jumping. It also means that the Bleeding Effect, where future Assassins learn from their genetic ancestors seems all the more legitimate. Check it out in all it's robotic claw glory below. 

Free your mind of the idea that video game movies are all bad. Sure, there have been some horrible duds in the past (let us never speak of Silent Hill 2 again). But our faith is being tentatively restored the closer we get to the release of the Assassin’s Creed movie.

What sets this project apart? First of all, developer Ubisoft is directly involved via its motion picture division. That’s encouraging in terms of fidelity to the game experience. Second, the talent assembled here is really first-rate. Michael Fassbender has been working overtime with two starring roles and a producer credit. With the skills of award-winning supporting actors and the guidance director/producer Justin Kurzel, there’s strong hope that this movie will be downright amazing.

And 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.

The Assassin’s Creed movie trailer: Lots of action, air assassinations, and stunt magic 

The primary Assassin’s Creed trailer shows off plenty of modern day and 15th century action with Fassbender throwing knives, using the Assassin staple weapon, the hidden blade, and generally killing in as many ways as possible as both Assassin Aguilar and his descendant Callum Lynch. 

There’s plenty of game Easter eggs in there too with Kurzel showing AC fans that he understands the movie needs to have plenty of stealthy nods to the gaming franchise. There’s the above air assassination (ouch), sweeping 360 shots and an ultra dramatic leap of faith. Here’s the 12 things things only true Assassin’s Creed fans will spot in the new movie trailer. Get your Eagle Vision on it below.

With the release date right around the corner, anticipation is for the movie is high. And the only thing higher might be my admiration for the movie’s stunt team. Check out this featurette on how the movie will recreate the classic Assassin’s Creed action.

The first Assassin’s Creed trailer dropped back in May. There’s more action in the second one but it’s worth watching our version with improved music. Kanye didn’t feel right in there so we changed it. Swapping in Iron by Woodkid, the track previously used for Assassin’s Creed Revelations’ brilliant E3 trailer fit perfectly.

If that’s still not enough Creed in your eyeballs, check out this behind the scenes featurette that debuted at E3 this year. 

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. 

Assassin's Creed movie poster: The full cast, seeing double, and leaps of faith

A new international poster dropped in November, and it finally gives some space to the high-powered cast that’s supporting Fassbender in the lead role. Here they are, looking intensely stoic:

The October Assassin's Creed movie poster shows off twice the Michael Fassbender. On the left is 15th century Aguilar, armed with a suitably ornate hidden blade, while on the right, Callum looks slightly less deadly. 

Previous posters so far have been iconic Assassin’s Creed imagery. In one, Michael Fassbender's Aguilar is standing atop a tall building, arms outspread in a classic Assassin pose, ready to jump. The second shows his character just moments after the first in mid-air after making that leap of faith. Here they both are.

The Assassin's Creed movie historical scenes are in Spanish

Yes, the Assassin’s Creed movie’s historical sequences are all in Spanish. There’s only 45% of it set in the past - a lot less than the games which focus largely on a hooded Assassin hurtling over the rooftops of history - but Justin Kurzel wants things to be as real as possible. “I just love the fact [production company] New Regency embraced it,”  he told Total Film magazine. “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.” 

Also worth pointing out is the fact that there's not swathes of green screen at work. 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. 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 plot is set more in the present than the past and the new robot Animus arm might end up in the games  

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. 

Plus, Michael Fassbender has hinted that aforementioned giant robot claw Animus might end up in the games. “For ages, we were like, ‘What are we going to do with the Animus?’" he said. “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.” 

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. 

Plus, 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 here but one in particular shows Fassbender's Callum Lynch in the clothing of his ancestor Aguilar in a modern day setting. How do we know? He’s got all his fingers and Aguilar is missing one on each hand because he's had it removed as part of the Assassin initiation ceremony. This image 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.

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 modern day 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. 

And if that’s too much detail and you want the core concepts of the game world and story all wrapped up in a neat little tl;dr, watch the Creed Mythology video the studio dropped in early November. Fassbender will explain it all. 

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.

The Assassin's Creed movie's robot claw Animus might end up in the games

The Assassin's Creed movie's historical sequences are all in Spanish

New Assassin's Creed movie images might have a massive spoiler

The Assassin's Creed movie's UK release date has eagle dived into 2017

The Assassin's Creed movie lets you call a real life Templar (it's Jeremy Irons)

Here's how Ezio fits into the Assassin's Creed movie