2016 could be a groundbreaking year for video game adaptations, as we have a couple on tap that have the potential to actually be good. The first is this summer’s Warcraft, an epic high-fantasy directed by Duncan Jones, and the second is this December’s Assassin’s Creed, a more grounded feature with some serious pedigree. Michael Fassbender produces and stars in the adaptation, enlisting his Macbeth director Justin Kurzel and co-star Marion Cotillard to come along for the ride, but when the film hits theaters, audiences might catch a vibe similar to another groundbreaking sci-fi movie.
The story of Assassin’s Creed involves a prisoner who is enlisted as a subject to use his DNA in order to travel into the past and live out one of his ancestor’s memories, all in an attempt to discover the location of a valuable artifact. Speaking with Empire, Fassbender cites The Matrix as a strong creative inspiration for the movie:
“I’ve always thought about The Matrix when we’ve approached this. This idea of DNA memory elevates it from a basic fantasy genre [piece], because you have something an audience can actually believe in. Then the journey becomes so much more elevated, because you’re on board in a different way.”
However, just because Assassin’s Creed is sci-fi doesn’t mean Kurzel is leaning heavily on visual effects. In fact, Fassbender says there’s been a great focus on the practical, even when it comes to those iconic leaps of faith:
“There’s very little green screen in this, which is highly unusual in these films. We have stunt guys jumping across buildings in [Maltese capital] Valletta. We’ve got [stunt man] Damian Walters doing a 120-foot leap of faith, without any rope, into a bag, so it’s pretty incredible to see.”
Now that’s something to get excited about. In an age where onscreen protagonists may be fully animated for the majority of a film’s action sequences, Assassin’s Creed promises some good old-fashioned human acrobatics. Fassbender stressed that they’re not trying to make the movie “crazy violent” despite the title, adding that the focus of the surely PG-13 film has been on shooting their action sequences “on real sets and real locations.”
Expectations for this one are sky-high, so fingers crossed the finished film delivers. Assassin’s Creed opens in theaters on December 21st.