KNIVES OUT

MICHAEL FASS­BEN­DER TAKES IT UP A LEVEL IN AS­SAS­SIN’S CREED

Empire (UK) - - PREMIERE -

ESIDENT EVIL. DOOM. SUPER BLOODY Mario Bros. The path from video game to film is paved with dis­ap­point­ments. But it would be a huge sur­prise if As­sas­sin’s Creed wound up in their com­pany.

Con­sider the tal­ent at­tached. Fresh from their brac­ing take on the Bard in last year’s Mac­beth, Michael Fass­ben­der, Mar­ion Cotil­lard and direc­tor Justin Kurzel have reteamed. Then there’s the hit game fran­chise; a sprawl­ing, blood-soaked his­tor­i­cal epic.

The film, how­ever, starts in the present day, where loner Cal­lum Lynch be­comes caught up in a cen­turies-long con­flict be­tween the Knights Tem­plar and the As­sas­sin Order. He is forced by cor­po­rate vil­lains Ab­stergo to en­ter the Animus, which trans­ports him into the body of his 15th-cen­tury Span­ish an­ces­tor, Aguilar: “He’s a sin­gle-minded war­rior — sim­i­lar to a sa­mu­rai,” says Fass­ben­der of the sec­ond of his dual roles. “He’s to­tally fo­cused on the preser­va­tion of the Creed and the Broth­er­hood.”

Fass­ben­der pro­duces, but find­ing a direc­tor was prob­lem­atic un­til he worked with Kurzel. “It was just clear — his in­sight into what we were do­ing on [Mac­beth], how to in­tel­lec­tu­alise the char­ac­ters as well as phys­i­calise them. This has so many com­po­nents... We had to strip it down to be as sim­ple as pos­si­ble.”

It may sound com­plex, but re­ally As­sas­sin’s Creed is the me­dieval Ma­trix — a seem­ingly in­signif­i­cant man dis­cov­ers he has a greater des­tiny. And kills peo­ple. Lots of peo­ple.

From what Em­pire has seen on set, Kurzel is go­ing all­out to cap­ture the knife-play (and any­thing-that-can-stabyou-play) from the games, while mak­ing sure the ac­tion feels real. “The idea is you wanna touch and feel the spa­ces,” says Fass­ben­der. “It adds to the essence of the film.” The cutscenes should be some­thing else. NEV PIERCE

AS­SAS­SIN’S CREED IS OUT ON DE­CEM­BER 26.

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