If you are a gamer, then there is a good chance that the film that you are most looking forward to this summer is the big screen adaption of the popular Assassin’s Creed franchise of games. Of course though perhaps the biggest surprise for fans of the games was when it was announced that Michael Fassbender would be playing Aguilar in the movie. While Fassbender is no newcomer to the sci-fi universe, he has starred in Prometheus and plays Magneto in the current X-Men franchise; people were worried when they learnt that Fassbender didn’t even know that the Assassin’s Creed game existed before he jumped on board this project.
When talking about the Assassin’s Creed film though Fassbender admits that it was other things that drew him to taking the role, especially the science behind the movie. “This universe of Templars and Assassins and DNA memory, how we carry our ancestor’s lives with us in our DNA, that seemed to me immediately fascinating. The idea that we negotiate life through these labels, things like instinct or why a bird would fly south or migrate at certain times of the year, that this actually comes from knowledge, from a formation, passed down through our DNA from our ancestors. I thought that was a very cool, plausible, scientific theory.”
It also didn’t worry him that the movie was bringing in new characters than the games themselves. “We wanted to bring in something new and fresh,” explains Fassbender. “Then it was really about finding where those characters come from and where they are going. We had the idea that we would have someone that has a very strong family, and for me that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years through this lineage to the Creed. I thought that would be very interesting and that he would become pretty much cerebral in the story and realise that he does belong to something much greater than himself. Up to this point, he has been operating as an individual and in a kind of lone-wolf way. Then he finds himself in this war where the Assassin’s have to make sure that these artefacts are kept out of the Templar’s hands. So we are dealing with DNA memory, we are dealing with Templars who are this Imperial kind of people, we are dealing with Assassins who are this band of anarchists, these rebels that are trying to prevent total corporate control of the world if you like and those are the kinds of things that we can kind of relate to. And they are also trying to make sure that freedom is still something that is protected and cherished.”
In the middle of that war, we find scientist Sofia Rikkin who is portrayed by Marion Cotillard who says her character is all about the science “Sofia Rikkin is a scientist who is seeking a cure for violence in a bid to improve human beings. She is a passionate woman and she thinks she works for a noble cause, which is a noble cause, and that is to find this cure against violence but she has her own way, and of course we are in a kind of sci-fi movie, so she has these amazing tools to support her research, and she is very, very passionate about her work and there is also a humanity in her that is really interesting as well.”
Like Fassbender Cotillard admits that she is also fascinated by the science behind the movie, especially around the device that her character has created – the Animus. “The company that I work for in the film has this very specific machine called the Animus which allows the scientists to see images of the subjects that they put into the Animus so they can explore the lives of their ancestors. The subjects when they first enter the Animus they don’t really know what is going to happen to them and they can’t believe the lives of their ancestors and they don’t realise that they are going to take the place of one of their ancestors and become this person and as they become that person they start to believe those lives.”
The third piece of the puzzle is the film’s resident bad guy Rikkin played by Hollywood legend Jeremy Irons, and he is quick, to sum up his character. “Rikkin is the CEO of a pharmaceutical company and a Templar. With his pharmaceutical company his products go worldwide and what he is trying to get permission to do is to add a component into the pharmaceutical drugs to remove the violence gene in people. It plugs into their subconscious and allows us to see the history within their genes which is played out in actual visual reality.”
Irons also says that Australian director Justin Kurzel is an integral part of Assassin’s Creed working as a film. “Justin is a very nice man and a very calm man,” Irons says smiling. “He is making an incredibly complicated film, and I am playing a very small part in that so really I just try to give him what he wants, and I know that he will knit it into the patchwork that he is making.”
Assassin’s Creed is indeed a very complicated film, but it is also a film that is going to be lapped up by the gaming world. From its suspenseful storyline and epic stunt-work, it is one of the films that shouldn’t be missed this summer.
Assassin’s Creed opens in Australian cinemas on the 1st January 2017.