In 1492, during the Granada War, Aguilar de Nerha is accepted into the Assassins Creed Brotherhood. He is assigned to protect Prince Ahmed de Granada. In 1986, Callum returns home to find his mother killed by his father, Joseph, a modern-day Assassin. As gunmen led by Alan, CEO of the Abstergo Foundation, the modern day Templar front, approach to capture Joseph, the latter convinces the former to escape.
In 2016, Callum is sentenced to death for suspected murder, but is rescued from execution by the Abstergo Foundation, which fakes his death, and transported to their facility in Madrid, Spain. He is told that the Templars are searching for the Apple, which contains the genetic code for free will, in order to subjugate the human race. Sophia, Alan's daughter and the head scientist, reveals that Callum is a descendant of Aguilar and conscripts him to the Animus, which allows him to relive Aguilar's genetic memories so that Abstergo can learn the current whereabouts of the Apple.
In Andalusia, Spain, Aguilar and his partner, Maria, are deployed to rescue Ahmed, who has been kidnapped by the Templar Grand Master Tomas de Torquemada, to coerce Ahmed's father, Sultan Muhammad XII, to surrender the Apple. Aguilar and Maria intercept the Templars, but are overpowered and captured by Torquemada's enforcer, Ojeda, just as Callum is pulled out of the Animus by Sophia.
In captivity, Callum befriends other descendants of Assassins, led by Moussa, the descendant of an 18th-century Haitian Assassin named Baptiste, and begins experiencing hallucinations, dubbed "the Bleeding Effect", of both Aguilar and Joseph. Callum and Sophia build a rapport over their sessions; and confides with Callum that her mother was likewise murdered by an Assassin.
Back in the Animus, Aguilar and Maria are scheduled for execution, but he manages to free himself and her, leading to a rooftop chase in which they perform a "Leap of Faith" (see below) to escape. Callum's mind reacts violently to the session; and he is temporarily paralyzed. He then learns that Joseph is also present at the facility. Confronting Joseph for his mother's death, Callum is informed that as a result of the Bleeding Effect, his and Aguilar's memories are merging, allowing Callum to tap into Aguilar's combat abilities; he also learns that Callum's own mother was an Assassin who chose to die by Joseph's hand, rather than be subjected to the Animus by the Templars. Callum vows to destroy the Assassins Brotherhood by finding the Apple. Meanwhile, Alan is pressured by his superior, Ellen Kaye, to shut down the Animus Project due to its lack of results, leading Sophia to question Alan's true intentions.
Callum willingly enters the Animus once again, whereupon Aguilar and Maria ambush a meeting between Muhammad and Ojeda. They succeed in killing the Templars and retrieving the Apple, though Ojeda captures her in order to force Aguilar to surrender it; but she chooses death, and Ojeda fatally stabs her before Aguilar kills him. He then escapes, performing another Leap, the force of which causes the Animus to violently malfunction. Aguilar then gives the Apple to Christopher Columbus, who promises to take it to his grave. Meanwhile, Moussa and the other Assassin prisoners start a riot in order to escape. Alan orders the facility to be purged, resulting in Joseph and most of the prisoners being killed by Abstergo security.
Callum stands in the Animus chamber and is met with the projections of a number of his Assassin ancestors, including Aguilar, Joseph, and the former's mother. Callum fully embraces his Assassins' creed and, having fully assimilated Aguilar’s memories and abilities, joins Moussa and the surviving Assassins in escaping the facility.
Having retrieved the Apple, Alan and his followers then converge in a Templar sanctuary in London to perform a ceremony. Inside the sanctuary, a disillusioned Sophia meets with Callum, who has come to take the Apple; and she reluctantly allows him to act. Callum sneaks behind Rikkin and kills him to retrieve the Apple, whereupon the Assassins depart, vowing to once again protect it. Sophia vows revenge upon Callum.Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch and Aguilar de Nerha:
Original characters created for the film, Lynch is a descendant of the Assassins, with genetic links to Aguilar, an Assassin in 15th century Spain. Callum has been running his whole life, ever since he was forced to witness his mother's murder as a child. But living on society's fringes has also kept him shrouded from the secrets of his ancestry. Awaiting execution on death row, Callum is captured and brought to the Abstergo facility (Abstergo Foundation in Madrid, Spain), where he may soon come to understand his place in the world, and control the power burning inside of him. Fassbender described Callum by saying "He doesn’t have a lineage he can feel a belonging to... he's a bit of a lost soul. He’s always been drifting in and out of correctional facilities," and conversely described Aguilar as "very much somebody that belongs to the Creed. He has a cause, he’s sort of been following that cause. He belongs to it." Angus Brown portrays a young Callum.
Marion Cotillard as Dr. Sophia Rikkin:
The daughter of Alan Rikkin and the leading scientist of the Animus project at Abstergo Foundation. Sophia is a brilliant scientist determined to use science to eradicate humanity's violent impulses and create harmonious world. She might not see the bigger picture of the modern-day Templar's causes, and her allegiance is yet to be tested. Marion Cotillard described Sophia's relationship with her father as "twisted". "Their relationship is distant, and she tries everything to make him proud," she explains. "But at the same time, she starts to understand that they're not really on the same page. The most important thing for her is not to impress her father. It's to achieve what she started."
Jeremy Irons as Alan Rikkin:
A visionary CEO of Abstergo Industries and, particularly, his private Madrid-based organization Abstergo Foundation dedicated to the "perfection" of humankind, one of the leaders of modern-day Knights Templar, and the father of Sophia, to which he feels a strong love. He is determined to achieve his orders' centuries-long goal to gain control over humanity. Through Callum, and the ancestral memories he holds, Rikkin may finally have found the key to achieving ultimate power for the betterment of humanity. "I'm a mover and a shaker. A shadowy figure. A man who is very much at the forefront of this world," Irons says. Like Sophia, Rikkin believes in "removing the violent impulse all men carry," and sees an opportunity in Cal. "Rikkin believes the cause of unhappiness in the world is war, and if he can get rid of that then people like him will be safer and wealthier. He's not a very moral man, but he thinks he is." The character previously appeared in the first Assassin's Creed
Brendan Gleeson as Joseph Lynch: The father of Callum Lynch and an Assassin, who was forced to kill his wife, Mary Lynch, in order to save her from Abstergo's invasion. Brian Gleeson portrays a young Joseph.
Charlotte Ramplingas Ellen Kaye: An even more senior Templar than Alan Rikkin, who is looking to shut down Abstergo's operation.
Michael K. Williams as Moussa: A descendant of Baptiste, a Haitian Assassin who uses voodoo poison against his enemies. Williams said, "Moussa definitely has some assassin skills. Although I think he prefers to use trickery and magic and voodoo to slay his opponents as opposed to just hand-to-hand combat, but if it needed to be he could take it to the mat." Baptiste previously appeared in Assassin's Creed: Liberation.
Denis Ménochet as McGowen.
Ariane Labed as Maria:
An highly-skilled assassin in 15th century Spain and the closest ally of Aguilar. More measured than her partner-in-arms, Maria is light on her feet and exceedingly quick, and together they are an unstoppable force. Like Aguilar, she understands the damage the Templar influence is doing to her country.
Khalid Abdalla as Sultan Muhammad XII.
Essie Davis as Mary Lynch: The mother of Callum Lynch.
Matias Varela as Emir: A descendant of Yusuf Tazim, a Middle Eastern Assassin who uses a bow and arrow, along with a sword and knives, against his enemies.
Callum Turner as Nathan.
Carlos Bardem as Benedicto: An Assassin.
Javier Gutiérrez as Tomas de Torquemada:
Tomas de Torquemada ruled over the Spanish Inquisition for 15 years, directing his inquisitors to root out and murder those he deemed to be manipulating the faith in their own pursuit of power. The most potent tool in his arsenal was the auto-de-fe: theatrical acts of public penance in which all those who crossed the Inquisition were burned alive.
Hovik Keuchkerian as Ojeda:
While Torquemada pulls the strings, Ojeda does the real work, exacting brutal punishment on any who dare to challenge the Inquisition. He thinks nothing of razing entire towns and commands a great army; however, his lack of subtlety is his weakness, because it allows the Assassins who operate in the shadows to keep their eyes on him at all times.
Michelle H. Lin as Lin: A descendant of an assassin, and another test subject at Abstergo.
By October 2011, Sony Pictures was in final negotiations with Ubisoft Motion Pictures to make a film version of Assassin's Creed, to be released in 3D. In July 2012, Michael Fassbender was announced to star in the film, as well as co-produce, through his DMC Film banner, with Conor McCaughan. Jean-Julien Baronnet, CEO of Ubisoft Motion Pictures, said Fassbender was the studio's first choice to star in the film. As well, negotiations between Sony Pictures and Ubisoft Motion Pictures were put on hold, with Ubisoft executives planning to develop the film independently in order to maintain greater creative control. Sony was able to still distribute the film, but Ubisoft Motion Pictures would not resume talks until packaging the project with a writer and director. In October 2012, Ubisoft revealed the film would be co-produced with New Regency and distributed by 20th Century Fox. New Regency financed part of the film's production, in order for Ubisoft to not shoulder much financial risk, yet still be able to be involved creatively; RatPac Entertainment and Alpha Pictures also co-financed the film. Baronnet also revealed Ubisoft hoped to release the film along with a new game launch for the series.
In January 2013, Michael Lesslie was hired to write the film. In June 2013, Frank Marshall entered negotiations to produce the film, along with Fassbender and McCaughan, for DMC Film, and Eli Richbourg for Ubisoft. In July, Scott Frank revealed he was rewriting the script. In January 2014, a Linkedin profile for executive producer Fannie Pailloux stated filming was scheduled to begin in August 2014. In April 2014, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage were hired to rewrite the script. By the end of April, Justin Kurzel was in talks to direct. In June, Olivia Munn expressed interest in appearing in the film.
On February 12, 2015, Ubisoft's CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed that New Regency had begun production on the film. The following day, Marion Cotillard was revealed to have joined the cast. Filming was expected to begin in late 2015. In April 2015, Fassbender revealed that filming was scheduled to begin in September 2015. In May 2015, Alicia Vikander was in talks to star in the film, though in the following month, she took a role in the fifth Bourne film, Jason Bourne, instead, and Ariane Labed was cast in her place. Producers on the film include Baronnet, Patrick Crowley, Fassbender, Marshall, Conor McCaughan, and Arnon Milchan. In July 2015, Michael K. Williams was added to the cast. In late August 2015, Fassbender's role was revealed as Callum Lynch in the present day and Aguilar in 15th century Spain; filming locations for the film were also announced.
Principal photography on the film began on August 31, 2015, with filming taking place in Malta, London, Spain, and the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. Adam Arkapaw serves as cinematographer, while Andy Nicholson was production designer. In October 2015, Jeremy Irons and Brendan Gleeson joined the cast. In December 2015, shooting took place in Spain, and Irons' role was revealed to be Alan Rikkin. Principal filming ended on January 15, 2016, with further filming taking place in Ely Cathedral in July.
In May 2016, it was announced that Jed Kurzel, the brother of director Justin Kurzel, would score the film.
Aymar Azaïzia, head of Assassin's Creed content at Ubisoft, stated that the film, which is "a brand new story, [with] new characters set in our universe," had the possibility to feature "some familiar faces," and that the present day element would feature Abstergo. Fassbender said, "We really want to respect the game[s] and the elements to it. But we also wanted to come up with our own thing. And one thing I’ve sort of learned from doing the franchises like X-Men is that audiences, I think, want to be surprised and to see new elements of what they already know, and different takes on it." The Animus, the machine used to experience ancestors' memories, was redesigned for the film, from a chair, to a machine that lifts the user in the air, allowing for a more modern, interactive and dramatic experience. Fassbender also noted the change was made to avoid comparisons to The Matrix. The Abstergo compound in the film features an artifact room that holds specific weapons from the games beyond the traditional Assassin wrist blades, including: Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's sword (Assassin's Creed); Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton's bow (Assassin's Creed III); Edward Kenway's flintlock pistols (Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag); and the cane sword of the twins Jacob and Evie Frye (Assassin's Creed Syndicate). Fassbender also stated that Ubisoft was "very keen" about elements being created for the film, and were considering incorporating them into future games.
The film also features the games' signature "Leap of Faith" jump, performed by Fassbender's stunt double, Damien Walters, rather than a digital double, as the production team wanted to make many of the elements in the film as "real" as possible, without the use of visual effects. The 125-foot (38 m) freefall was described as "one of the highest freefalls performed by a stuntman in almost 35 years".
Assassin's Creed was released on December 21, 2016. The film was originally announced in May 2013 to be released on May 22, 2015, a date that was pushed back the following month to June 26, 2015. In November 2013, the film was pushed back once again to a new release date of August 7, 2015. In September 2014, the film was pushed to an unspecified 2016 release date, which, in January 2015, was revealed to be December 21, 2016.
As of February 22, 2017, Assassin's Creed grossed $54.6 million in the United States and Canada and $158.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $212.9 million, against a production budget of $125 million.
In North America, Assassin's Creed was initially expected to gross $25–35 million from 2,902 theaters over its first six days of release. However, after grossing $1.4 million from Tuesday night previews and $4.6 million on its first day, six-day projections were lowered to $22 million. It went on to gross $10.3 million in its opening weekend (a six-day total of $22.5 million), finishing 5th at the box office.
Assassin's Creed received negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 18% based on 171 reviews, with an average rating of 3.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Assassin's Creed is arguably better made (and certainly better cast) than most video game adaptations; unfortunately, the CGI-fueled end result is still a joylessly overplotted slog." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 36 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a B-, and said "declaring this to be the best video game movie ever made is the kind of backhanded compliment that sounds like hyperbole, but the description fits the bill on both counts."
In a negative review, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote, "I bet playing the game is much more exciting. But then getting Fassbender to slap a coat of Dulux on the wall of his hi-tech prison cell and monitoring the progressive moisture-loss would be more exciting." Robbie Collin of the Daily Telegraph was equally scathing, saying, "For everyone who thought Dan Brown's conspiracy novels were just lacking a spot of parkour, Assassin’s Creed might be your favourite film of the year. But for the clinically sane 99.9 percent of the rest of us, it’s rather less exciting."
In March 2016, Daphne Yang, CEO of the film's Taiwanese co-financier CatchPlay, stated that New Regency was looking to turn the film into a franchise, since it is based on "successful Ubisoft games and would make ideal sequels." Two additional films are planned, with the first sequel entering development during the production of the initial film. Kurzel told Premiere that he would like to explore the Cold War in the sequel.