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The upcoming Assassin’s Creed film adaptation obviously has its roots in the hit Ubisoft video game franchise, but star Michael Fassbender also sees the movie imbued with the DNA of a beloved sci-fi film.

Speaking to Empire, Fassbender drew comparisons between the upcoming action film and the Wachowskis’ The Matrix, seeing the trappings of Assassin’s Creed story as elements that help it rise above other genre fare, just as The Matrix aimed to be about more than its sci-fi and technological aspects.

I’ve always thought about The Matrix when we’ve approached this,” Fassbender said. “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.”

Fassbender is referring to the dual-time period nature of the film, which sees Fassbender play modern-day Callum Lynch, as well as his ancestor Aguilar in 15th-century Spain. Lynch is able to do so via a machine called the Animus, diving into and experiencing the memories of his bloodline as he explores the centuries-long battle between the Assassins and the Templars. That segmented storytelling also reflects The Matrix‘s set-up, bouncing between the constructed world of the Matrix itself and the real world outside the one machines had created.

The actor also promised that, in addition to the film’s focus on crafting a layered story, Assassin’s Creed will also be working toward a grounded action movie, saying the film is filled with little green screen and an emphasis on practical stunts.

“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,” Fassbender said, calling out the signature leap of faith mechanic of the gaming franchise. Hopefully that bag is safer than the piles of hay players jump into in the games.

Hear more from Fassbender about the film’s emphasis on real world locations and stunts over on Empire. For more on Fassbender’s approach to the film, read what he told about EW about his experience, or lack thereof, with the game franchise. Directed by Justin Kurzel, Assassin’s Creed will release on Dec. 21.

Assassin's Creed
  • Video Games