After almost a year of speculating and finding snippets of on-location filming, we finally got our first look at Assassin’s Creed the movie last night when the trailer aired on Jimmy Kimmel – thanks to a special delivery from APS (Assassin Postal Service). Though after years of being on top of the gaming industry, is this move from gaming to film a wise choice or will it be as ill-fated as most other video game-based films (Final Fantasy: Spirits Within, Super Mario Brothers, etc)?
Some have labeled the Assassin’s Creed-genre as “predictable” and “played out”. So in order for this movie to be a success, it’ll have to not only appeal to those who’ve never played a single game; but also please longtime fans while also giving them something new and unique – something to make them fall in love with the series again. That is why everything hinges on this first trailer – and it NAILED IT!!!!!!!
So let’s take a Closer Look at this trailer and analyze everything it has to offer for “Mentors” (old fans) and “Initiates” (new fans).
Meeting The Characters – Callum Lynch/ Aguilar, Maria, Sophia & Alan Rikkin:
As the trailer opens, we’re immediately introduced to Callum Lynch, a man scheduled to be executed by lethal injection. This immediately raises some questions as to who Callum is and WHAT he did that earned him the death penalty. Though whereas we don’t get to learn too much about his past, we do get to see quite a bit of his ancestor Aquilar who lived during the height of the Spanish Inquisition. It goes without saying that Callum and Aguilar aren’t the same person; but the fact that Michael Fassbender plays both is actually an incredible stylistic choice.
For those unfamiliar with the finer points of the series, the Animus inserts YOU into your ancestor’s memories – thus making you both yourself but also confined to your ancestor’s life. This is why there is the Bleeding Effect, which is when you start blending your life with your ancestor’s life and can’t separate the two. Sure this results in you gaining their abilities; but also can cause serious psychological issues. So by having Fassbender play both characters (one with facial tattoos and an accent, one without), it lends itself well to the whole ‘it’s me, but not me’ feeling. Additionally, this was also done in the original Assassin’s Creed Trilogy, where the present day Desmond Miles shared quite a few facial similarities to his ancestors.
Though Callum/Aguilar aren’t the only characters in this film. In the past, Aguilar isn’t the only Assassin as we meet Maria, a mysterious assassin who works alongside Aguilar much like the Frye siblings (Jacob and Evie) do in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Additionally, we can see that Maria has a similar style of facial tattoo as Aguilar. Does this mean they are siblings, romantic partners or is this simply one of the markers of the Spanish Brotherhood during that time? For that, we’ll need another trailer.
As for the Present Day, we get to meet Sophia Rikkin (played by Marion Cotillard) who is not only the doctor assigned to Callum, but also gives off a very “drink the Kool-Aid” vibe. Though that could be because her father is the head of Abstergo, Alan Rikkin (played by Jeremy Irons), whom we see watching over Callum’s dives with great eagerness. It doesn’t take long to figure out that Alan and Abstergo in general are the behind the scenes antagonists of this film; but by taking a look at this trailer we see that the present day story will actually have just as much importance as the past.
The Present Day Story – Abstergo, The Animus & A Potential Rebellion?:
The trailer wastes no time in setting up the ‘basic premise’ of the Assassin’s Creed universe (using DNA to relive ancestor’s memories); and that’s for good measure because this trailer is loaded with tons of story details that not only appeal to newcomers but also leave longtime fans impressed. For starters, we must return to the fact that Callum was on death row. As Sophia eerily tells him “you no longer exist”, which is very important. Unlike past games or any ‘evil organization experiment’ movie plot, Callum isn’t kidnapped. He’s not missing. The entire world thinks he’s dead and no one is looking for him. This is his new life/hell, and there’s no escaping it… or is there?
Before we get to that, we also have to take a look at Abstergo itself, which was translated beautifully from game to film. This is no Weapon X program we saw in Deadpool, but rather an extremely clean – dare I say immaculate – facility with smooth lines and all shades of white and gray. Whether you’re new to the series or not, you can immediately tell this is part scientific institution and part cult.
As for their gear though, the Animus has received a substantial upgrade from the old table/chair prototypes. There seems to be little to no headgear and instead there’s two modified hidden blades attached to his wrists and a giant claw which seems to plug into the base of his spinal cord. This new apparatus might be more spacious than the others, but as we see in the trailer it certainly aids in the mobility the older models lacked – which could sometimes result in muscle atrophy during extended dives. Whether this machine is meant for very long term dives or not is besides the point, because it’ll certainly aid in the physical effects of the Bleeding Effect that I mentioned earlier. And that might just be what Abstergo is counting on as we see very Hunger Games-esque moments of Callum and some other recruits training with bows and arrows. Is Abstergo once again making the most of their ‘dives’ and training a new batch of Assassin Hunters? Potentially, and that’s exactly where the previously mentioned ‘chance to escape’ comes in.
In the trailer we see some of Abstergo’s security forces mobilized as well as what appears to be Callum and the other recruits taking down those forces. Will Callum and the other Subjects lead a rebellion and fight for their freedom? Will the Assassins break into Abstergo and help break them out? Whatever the case may be, a compelling and evolving present day story is something movie goers and longtime fans of the series alike will be ecstatic to see – especially if this evolves into a trilogy of its own.
Bringing The Stunts To Life – Fight Scenes, Free-Running & That Leap Of Faith:
In closing, we have to take a moment to acknowledge how epic the fight scenes and other stunts are. If you google “Assassins Creed Real”, you’ll find tons of videos of incredibly talented fans making their own videos of free running around their native cities. If fans and individuals can pulls this off, you know the film has to. And once again they nail it! You can tell these aren’t CGI nor ‘super close up where you can’t really see what’s going on’ stunts. These are beautifully planned runs and choreographed fights that truly show the dedication to realism this film is taking. In fact, a green screen isn’t even used since this movie was shot on location in Malta and Spain. So every opportunity to make something look authentic was taken.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about that Leap of Faith at the end. The Leap of Faith is the most iconic move in the Assassins Creed series – probably more than the assassinating part – so there was simply no other image this trailer could end on. As for creating this mind-blowing scene, what if I told you it wasn’t CGI either. Sure the tower was added in later; but this was an actual 120ft swan dive by stuntman extraordinaire Damien Walters who did the entire thing without wires or anything. That jump, much like the rest of this trailer is breathtaking and I wouldn’t change a single thing….
WELLLL, maybe I’d change the Kanye track. But even that’s not enough to discourage my excitement for this film. Is it Holiday 2016 yet? Because the wait for Assassin’s Creed is killing me! Huh, irony lol