Prepare for an exhilarating ride at the movies when the game-to-movie “Assassin’s Creed” opens in Phil. cinemas on January 8 starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons and Brendan Gleeson.
A game-changing cinematic event, “Assassin’s Creed” is directed by visionary filmmaker Justin Kurzel from Ubisoft’s worldwide hit franchise of the same title. Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.
Since development began on the first “Assassin’s Creed” game, inspired by the life of Hassan-i Sabbah, a missionary who lived in 11th Century Persia, and whose followers became known as “Hashshashin”, or Assassins – the franchise has always been at the top of Ubisoft’s priority list, and since its release in 2007, there have been more than 20 games within the “Assassin’s Creed” canon, as well as comics, novels, and books.
Now, on January 4, 2017, Philippine audiences will finally get the chance to see “Assassin’s Creed” (from 20th Century Fox) brought to life in a new film that features plenty of moments and nods that fans of the games will pick up on.
For director Justin Kurzel, transforming the world of the hit video game series “Assassin’s Creed” into a live action feature film meant putting as much effort into realizing the action of the games in real life as possible. “I could have shot it all in a parking lot and made it very CGI-heavy,” he admits, “but I thought what was really interesting was to see how we could make the audience feel as though it were possible; that these Assassins in real life could jump between buildings.”
Early on in the project he took a meeting with the stunt coordinator, Ben Cooke, to determine how much could be realized. It was Cooke who suggested bringing on Damien Walters, one of the world’s leading freerunners, to choreograph these sequences with the principal actors and the stunt team. When they started talking about the Leap of Faith – an iconic “Assassin’s Creed” stunt series staple, in which an Assassin flings himself off a ledge, turns in mid-air and lands on his back in water or on a bale of hay – Walters revealed that he’d been planning to attempt his own, just for fun. 20ft was the height mooted by the production to attempt the leap. Walters suggested going for 120ft.
“What’s so amazing about this stuff is that you can do it,” says Kurzel. “You’re looking at an Assassin jumping off a building and going, ‘Is that possible?’ Well, we did it. I think that’s very important, especially if the film’s going to have some sense of its own identity. We’ve paid our dues to figure out how you jump from building to building, and leap and climb. What is a Leap of Faith that feels real and tangible and visceral?”
Cook notes that it was worth the effort. “It’s such an iconic part of the game that I don’t think it should be ruined with visual effects. We actually went back to the old school of stunts and doing that kind of thing for real. If you get these stunts wrong, you’re going down, but for a stunt performer, if you’re not getting scared, it’s meaningless.”
Agrees Michael Fassbender, who plays the dual roles of Callum Lynch and Aguilar de Nehra in the movie: “We did it old-school, on location, on camera. Damien doing that jump – it was so frightening. He was nervous, but I think it was very special that he did his biggest jump on our movie. I got nervous just watching him; I felt a little sick every time he was up there. I just wanted him down safe.”