Aussie director’s action film debut in Assassin’s Creed.
Aussie director puts twist on video game for big screen
JUSTIN Kurzel is ready for a passionate reaction from fans to his new film Assassin’s Creed. The Australian director is at the helm of the latest big-screen adaptation of a video game franchise – a growing trend in recent years.
“I think the feedback will be very strong either way,” he tells Weekend.
“I feel really excited that the fans are going to see something that’s not an appropriation of the game.
“We wanted to make an experience for the fans that was different to how they experience the game; I hope we have.”
Michael Fassbender stars as Callum Lynch, a criminal who discovers he is the direct descendant of a master assassin called Aguilar.
The mysterious Knights Templar pulls him from death row, only to imprison him in their own facility where they use a special machine to read his DNA’s “memory” in the hopes of finding where Aguilar hid a precious artefact.
It was Fassbender, a co-producer on the film, who suggested Kurzel, with whom he had just worked on the film Macbeth, for the director’s chair.
“I was in post-production for Macbeth when Michael approached me and started talking about the idea of genetic memory and the central character learning about who he is through the memories of his ancestors,” Kurzel says.
“I thought the concept was really fascinating, and then he was like ‘It’s Assassin’s Creed; it’s this video game’.”
Kurzel, who is best known for his award-winning 2011 crime drama Snowtown, admits he had little experience with action sequences before working on Assassin’s Creed.
“It was a very particular style of action. We were using real stuntmen and getting Michael to do a lot of the action sequences himself. We tried to use as little CGI as possible,” he says.
“I was definitely a virgin to that style of filmmaking, but I learned a lot very, very quickly. That inexperience also makes you be a bit more daring because you don’t quite understand what’s not possible.”
The film features some daring stunts, including Damien Walters’ 38 metre free fall to successfully recreate the video game’s iconic Leap of Faith.
“When we were shooting in Malta, you would only do one or two takes, maybe one take if you were doing a really dangerous stunt, because you couldn’t afford to do another take,” Kurzel says. “You’d be crossing your fingers and praying to the gods nothing would go wrong. We were all really determined, for the film to feel dangerous.
“It was very nerve racking at times, especially when it’s your lead actor 15 metres in the air leaning over an edge trying to
(do) parkour. But it’s also very exciting. We weren’t in a car park on a green screen; we were doing it.”
Kurzel used two very different colour palettes to help distinguish between the flashback, or regression, scenes and the present day and also to highlight the ongoing ideological struggle between the assassins and the Templar.
“The assassins believe that humanity has the ability to choose for itself and not be predetermined by other religions and ideologies,” he says.
“Then the Templars believe that all humanity is corrupt and weak, and to evolve they need to have an elite society guiding them. Both of those sides contradict each other in an interesting way. When they become extreme they become dangerous; one becomes a dictator and the other a rogue. I think that’s something you could carry into future films.”
Assassin’s Creed opens nationally tomorrow.
Michael Fassbender as the assassin Aguilar in a scene from the movie Assassin’s Creed.