‘Assassin’s Creed’ Film Could Be Half Decent

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Michael Fassbender’s long-gestating Assassin’s Creed movie has cast French Oscar winner Marion Cotillard in the lead female role, Deadline reports. The move proves that not only is the movie moving forward despite rampant rumors that it will never actually happen, but Fassbender and his team also seem dedicated to making a decent film even though they could get away with a subpar action effort and still rake in the dough given the cash cow that is the Assassin’s Creed video game franchise.

Fassbender and Cotillard just finished working together on the upcoming film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, with Fassbender playing Macbeth and Cotillard playing Lady Macbeth. Justin Kurzel directed that movie and he’s also signed on to direct Assassin’s Creed. If fans of the massive video game franchise are looking for clues as to what the movie is going to be like, their best bet might be to go see the Shakespearean classic tragedy. Macbeth is due out sometime later this year.

The adaptation of Assassin’s Creed has been plagued by false starts and rumors of failure. Stories have gone around on several different occasions that Fassbender had pulled out of the project, even though he denied it each time. The film has continuously set tentative release dates that have had to be pushed back. Rumors have suggested that the writers are having a difficult time coming up with a cohesive script that captures the spirit of the video game while creating a cohesive story.

Weirdly, Fassbender has said that he thinks these rumors are a good thing for the movie. “I know, I love these rumors!” Fassbender said in an interview with IGN while promoting his indie film, Frank. “It’s fantastic. People talk about it, and they’re hopefully interested. Nothing has changed, yeah. I’m still a part of Assassin’s Creed, and we’re working on the script as we speak. Actually, I’m going to go back and see the writers when I get back to Europe.”

Cotillard is an Oscar winner and has been nominated for another Academy Award this year for her film Two Days, One Night. She is an acclaimed actress versatile enough to take on action roles in Christopher Nolan-directed blockbusters and maintain a healthy body of work in indie films and movies in her native language. She gave such a convincing performance as the French singer Edith Piaf in the biopic La Vie en Rose that she’s the only actor to win an Oscar for a French-language film not in a foreign-language category. She’s nominated for another foreign-language movie this year, proving that she is capable of giving such strong performances that the Academy has to pay attention even when she’s not speaking English.

Casting Cotillard is a strong sign that Fassbender and Kurzel want to make this Assassin’s Creed movie a quality film rather than just adopt the typical video game movie format with a mindless onslaught of action with poor acting and little plot development. Though the character she will play isn’t known, involving Cotillard in any project is a sign of reaching for quality.

Of course getting top-notch actors involved won’t matter for this video game adaptation if the writers can’t figure out a way to adapt the game into a good story. The game itself has been criticized for allowing its story to grow too complex and hard to follow. With the developer Ubisoft having released 15 different Assassin’s Creed games since the first one debuted in 2007, with the plot spanning various periods in history from the Crusades to the Renaissance to the French Revolution to Victorian England, it’s understandable why the writers would have a hard time developing a straightforward story to tell in the movie.

The main storyline involves two ancient societies, the Assassins and the Knights Templar, in a longstanding rivalry and a modern-day bartender named Desmond Miles who is a descendant of one ancestral line of the Assassins. Fassbender is likely to play Miles, who gets involved in the conflict when he finds out about his ancestry. Miles eventually gains the ability to experience the memories of his ancestors, thus the game’s time traveling aspects.

Deadline said that this will likely be spun into a franchise if the first installment proves successful. The Assassin’s Creed video games have sold 91 million copies and are Ubisoft’s biggest-selling title, so the audience for the movie is certainly out there. Cotillard proved in her work with Nolan such as The Dark Knight Returns and Inception that she can carry thriller-action roles with aplomb, so the questions about success with this film lie with the script. If the writers can come up with a way to craft the game’s convoluted story into a digestible film franchise, then Assassin’s Creed will probably be a hit. Deadline said the movie’s current expected release date is December 21, 2016.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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