'Assassin's Creed' Trailer Breakdown: Going Through The First Footage Frame-By-Frame

The first trailer for Assassin's Creed arrived late last night, so you know what that means – it's time for a trailer breakdown, where we go through this whole batch of footage frame-by-frame and talk about what we find. I'm approaching this as a casual fan of the video game franchise. I've played a few and I've enjoyed them. I'm also approaching this as someone who thinks Michael Fassbender and Justin Kurzel making a video game adaptation is just plain fascinating. These are not the kind of people who half-ass their movies. There is no way this is just another lousy video game movie...right?

Anyway, let's climb a tall tower and dive into this trailer...

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Ah, a city skyline filled with fog. Take it in, ladies and gentlemen...this is going to be a very familiar image throughout this entire trailer.

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Here's our first look at one of two protagonists in Assassin's Creed, Callum Lynch, played by Michael Fassbender. This isn't Fassbender's first time at the Glossy Studio Tentpole rodeo (he does play Magneto in the X-Men movies, after all), but this is a film in which he's taken a special interest. In addition to playing the two leads, he's a producer on the film and that title is, by all accounts, not some kind of honorary title. For better or worse, this is the movie series he's decided to put all of his weight behind. I bring all of this up because Fassbender looks like his usual intense self in this footage. It certainly doesn't look like he's phoning this one in.

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Here's our first look at Marion Cotillard as Sophia Rikkin, a scientist at Abstergo Industries (more on them in a moment) and daughter of Alan Rikkin, the company's CEO. This is very much a reunion for Fassbeder and Cotillard, who previously starred in 2015's Macbeth...which was helmed by Assassin's Creed director Justin Kurzel. It seems that everyone liked working with each other the first time around...

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The trailer quickly reveals the basics of Callum's backstory and it's a bit of a departure from previous lead characters in the Assassin's Creed series. Callum Lynch is a career criminal who faces execution, only for his death to be faked by Abstergo and his still-very-much-alive body transported to one of their facilities. This means he has a penchant for violence (and possibly a dark history to atone for), which hasn't always been present in previous video game storylines.

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Naturally, Callum isn't alone in Abstergo's prison, which has been re-imagined as...a foggy environment filled with trees? It's a far cry from the very white, very sterile environments I remember from the early games. In any case, it's a striking image and an indication that the film will diverge from the source material in ways both minor and major.

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That is the logo for Abstergo Industries, a multinational corporation that acts as a front for the Templar Order, a secret society that has attempted to create a "perfect world" for thousands of years. Naturally, their idea of a perfect world involves controlling people and dominating governments and they're pretty much bad news for just about everyone. They are lifelong enemies with the Assassins, who we'll meet soon enough.

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And this is the point in the trailer where Marion Cotillard is tasked with explaining the genuinely bizarre and entirely implausible technology that this entire series hinges upon. Even coming from her, it sounds ludicrous – using some wacky technology, they can allow people to access their "genetic memories" and relive the lives of their ancestors. Naturally, Abstergo wants to use this tech to learn more about their enemies and their past history and Callum just so happens to be descended from a long line of Assassins. The games never really try to explain how this science could possibly work and they shouldn't. Any explanation would just come off as silly. It's best to just roll with it and accept that this is how Assassin's Creed justifies its blend of science fiction and historical action.

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The trailer offers one quick glimpse of the great Jeremy Irons as Alan Rikkin, the CEO of Abstergo and the father of Cotillard's character. While the bulk of the characters in Assassin's Creed were created specifically for the film (which is intended to be a companion piece to the games, not an adaptation), Rikkin is a holdover from the video game, having appeared in the first Assassin's Creed video game. He looked nothing like this in the game, but c'mon, little things like that don't matter when you can get Jeremy freakin' Irons in your movie.

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Here's our first glimpse at a hidden blade, the go-to weapon for Assassins that anyone familiar with the games will know all too well. This retractable weapon is strapped to the forearm, where it can be hidden by clothing, and can be released moments before you're prepared to strike. It seems that this particular hidden blade has survived to modern times and is being strapped to Callum Lynch for reasons unknown. Then again, the whole process of re-enacting the past seems to be far more literal in this film than it was in the games.

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For example, take how the film has reimagined the Animus, the device that allows a user to access their genetic memories in the first place. The video game version is little more than a chair or table hooked up to a computer. You sit down, get plugged in, and essentially dream your way into the past. It appears to be a far more, uh, active process in the film, with the user gripped by a giant robotic arm that allows for complete movement as they explore the lives of their ancestors. Perhaps this is why Callum is wearing those hidden blades – to better connect him to the experience he's having in his mind. Plus, it essentially transforms Callum into a gamer, a cheeky nod to the movie's origins.

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Hey, another foggy city skyline shot! Complete with a hawk! While the first portion of the trailer took a hard turn away from the modern day aesthetics of the video game, this is where the movie begins to strongly resemble its electronic counterpart. This kind of imagery is the series' bread and butter.

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It wouldn't be Assassin's Creed unless a substantial amount of time was spent of roofs. A large percentage of any given Assassin's Creed game is spent performing all manners of activities on roofs and this trailer does not disappoint in that department.

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And that brings us to our first look at Fassbender's other character in the film, Aguilar de Nehra, an Assassin living and working and killing in 15th century Spain. Fassbender gets shaggy hair, a scruffy beard, a cool hooded robe and a face tattoo for this portion of the movie, just in case you were wondering which part of the story was probably more fun to shoot. This is also where the rathe unfortunate use of a Kanye West track begins, but let's not dwell on that.

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Although much of the imagery in this trailer feels torn straight out out the original video game series, there are a few shots where Justin Kurzel puts his own personal stamp on things. As seen in his Macbeth, he's a big fan of filling the the air with dust and grime and debris. His characters exist in a constant storm of stuff. This is evident throughout the trailer, but it's especially evident in this quick shot of a massive battle, where the air looks as unfit to breathe as any of the air in Macbeth.

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Like with many movies set in several time periods or locations, Kurzel has apparently decided to color code this film. The modern day scenes are chilly and fluorescent, dominated by shades of blue and artificial lighting. The 15th century Spain scenes are earthy and dirty, utilizing browns and yellows and oh-so-much dust.

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Here's our first look at Ariane Labed as Maria, one of Aguilar's Assassin comrades. While her character here is a big question mark (we can prrrobably assume that she's pretty good at killing people), I can say that Labed has a small but vital role in The Lobster, which opens this week. You should really see The Lobster. It's great. Consider it Assassin's Creed research, if you must.

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"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" Okay. I'm glad we got that one out of our system. I know a bunch of us were thinking it the moment Marion Cotillard mentioned it earlier in the trailer. In all seriousness, the most compelling aspect of the Assassin's Creed video games has always been their relative historical accuracy. While the plots have been completely made up, the settings and many of the supporting characters have been borrowed straight from actual history. Assassin's Creed has never been educational, but it has taken advantage of various historical backdrops to tell its story, blending its fiction into actual events. If this shot is any indication, the Spanish Inquisition seems to have put Aguilar on trial and decided that he's guilty.

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The best Assassin's Creed players tend to avoid out-and-out conflict, striking fast from the shadows and fleeing (usually over rooftops) before any guards can catch up with you. But you do get cornered on occasion and that's when the game's fast, defensive combat kicks in. The film version will undoubtedly be full of action and, to everyone's credit, the glimpses of it we see here look very much like how it is portrayed in the games.

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The second most satisfying thing you can do in an Assassin's Creed game is leap from a rooftop and spear an enemy with your hidden blades. In fact, this shot looks like it should be on the back of a physical copy of the latest game. The film is directly utilizing specific pieces of the series' iconography. If the goal is to make if very clear that this movie is intended to exist in the same universe as the games, then mission accomplished.

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While the bulk of the action in Assassin's Creed will most likely take place in the past, this shot of Abstergo security gearing up implies that something big will go down in the modern world. We'll return to this in a bit.

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This shot provides us with a good opportunity to talk about the Assassins, or the Assassin Brotherhood or the Assassin Order or the Liberalis Circulum or the Hashshashin. Pick an era and you'll usually discover a a different name for this organized group of professional killers. But these guys aren't ordinary criminals or thugs – they're the first and only line of resistance against the Templar Order. While their enemies want to "save" the world by dominating it and doing away with free will, these are the people who fight to preserve individual freedoms. It's the age-old cash between security and freedom and their viewpoints are reflected in how their operate. While the Templars amass large armies and operate in plain sight (hence them evolving into a corporation), the Assassins use their smaller numbers to their advantage, waging guerrilla war against their enemies.

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Here's a quick shot of some hidden blade action, which presents another key difference between the Templars and the Assassins. The former may have the numbers, but the latter has single individuals who can leap into rooms from above and take one a few armed guards single-handedly.

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Yes, this particular move is borrowed straight from the games. Thanks for asking.

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Here's another good look at Ariane Labed, offering us a clear look at her own set of face tattoos. She's also cracking a smile right after executing a few guys, so take from that what you will.

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In case you were wondering, it does look like Aguilar uses his Assassin training to escape the Spanish Inquisition, although the guy to his left wasn't so lucky. This is the stuff I find I really compelling about the original games. The science fiction is wacky and the action is cool, but getting lost in history and brushing shoulders with events and scenarios I've only read about in books is the real appeal.

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If you were wondering if Callum would retain the skills and abilities he experiences while reliving the life of his deadly ancestor...well, yeah. It certainly looks that way. And it looks like he's staging an escape. In fact, this is probably the climax of the film. Oops. However, this shot does make it clear that the Animus seems to be housed in some kind of temple, which is a far more aesthetically interesting location than the sterile lab of the original games and a far more fitting HQ for a secret society.

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From the look of things, Callum isn't alone in his escape attempt. Since they're sharing the prison, we can probably assume that these people are fellow descendants of Assassins, which mean they have also been spending time in the Animus, which means that they are also prepared to kill their way out of a corporate prison using whatever weapons happen to be on hand.

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Although the bulk of the locations seen in the trailer were undoubtedly enhanced after the fact, there's not denying how stunning the locations in this film look. Even with Kurzel's trademark dust clouds, 15th century Spain looks fully realized.

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I only grabbed this shot of an Assassin traversing rooftops by leaping over banners because it reminded me of those miserable racing mission where you had to collect flags scattered across the city. Screw those levels.

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Remember when we talked about rooftops earlier? If Kurzel really wanted to make an accurate adaptation of Assassin's Creed, 90% of this movie would be people leaping from roof to roof. In all seriousness, the thrill of traversing an ancient city is one of the most appealing things the games have to offer and I hope the movie can capture that particular thrill.

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Of course this trailer features Michael Fassbender doing a superhero landing. Of course.

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Hello, Assassin's Creed movie logo. You look very much like the Assassin's Creed video game logo.

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There was only one way this trailer could possibly end and that was with Aguilar venturing the highest point in the city...

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...and taking a "leap of faith," which is the most satisfying thing you can do in these games. Jumping from tall towers never gets old and it has rightfully become one of the most famous element of the series.

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And if this is anything like the games, Michael Fassbender is currently flying toward a tiny pile of hay that will inexplicably cushion his fall.