The Assassin’s Creed movie already had a top-tier star in Michael Fassbender, and a release date slated for August 7, 2015. One important thing it didn’t have, however, was a director. That may change soon, and it looks like Fassbender will be reteaming with the director he worked with on another upcoming project, a 2015 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s MacBeth.
Deadline reports that Australian screenwriter/director Justin Kurzel is in talks with New Regency and Ubisoft to helm the adaptation of Ubisoft’s best-selling Assassin’s Creed video game series. Kurzel isn’t a well-known name yet, having just two features under his belt: 2011’s The Snowtown Murders and last year’s The Turning (which was actually a collection of short films based on stories by Australian writer Tim Winton). Both films earned plenty of praise from critics, sitting at 84% and 92% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively. Clearly he impressed Fassbender on MacBeth, as I’m sure the actor had something to do with Kurzel’s name entering contention for the Assassin’s Creed film.
If you’re not familiar with the Assassin’s Creed games, they’ll definitely present some interesting challenges when it comes to making them work on the big screen. The games tell two different types of stories. The modern storyline follows a bartender named Desmond Miles, who is kidnapped by the mysterious Abstergo Corporation and plugged into a device known as the Animus. It allows the subject to relive the memories of any of their ancestors, essentially projecting your brain into a fully interactive simulation that lets you experience the lives of your forebears. Those memories account for the other half of the Assassin’s Creed narrative. Over the course of the five main games, players have donned the hoods of Assassin’s in the Holy Land during the Crusades; Renaissance Italy and Constantinople; Revolutionary-era America; and the Caribbean during the height of 18th century piracy.
But why is Abstergo interested in Desmond’s ancestors in the first place? Because they’re actually a front for the Templars, an order dedicated to ruling and shaping mankind in secret. Desmond, before he rejected his heritage, was born an Assassin — the Templars’ opposite number, who are committed to defending principles of freedom and self-determination, and who have been battling the Templars for centuries. Now Abstergo hopes to find clues in Desmond’s memories that will lead them to powerful artifacts left behind by a highly advanced precursor species that was wiped out before recorded history began.
It’ll be tricky to balance those two elements — the historical and the science fictional — in a way that doesn’t feel overcrowded or schizophrenic in a two-hour movie, so Kurzel certainly has his work cut out for him. They look to be in good shape on the historical front, at least: earlier this month they hired screenwriters Adam Cooper and Bill Collage to write the script. They’re the blokes who penned Ridley Scott’s upcoming Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings, and also worked on Darren Aronofsky’s in-develoipment George Washington flick The General and a script about legendary explorer Marco Polo.
Assassin’s Creed seems to be shaping up nicely, so dare we hope it might be the first genuinely good video game movie? Just don’t mention MacBeth.