Assassin’s Creed, based on the video game series of the same name, follows Callum Lynch (Fassbender) as he experiences the adventures of his Assassin ancestor, Aguilar (Also Fassbender), in 15th Century Spain. Forced by the Templars and through the power of the Animus, Cal searches for the Apple of Eden, a mysterious and powerful artefact that can control free will.
(an apple a day keeps the Dr from sticking a needle up your ass!)
Cal is sentenced to death and subsequently executed, only to awaken in a mysterious prison facility led by Dr. Sophia Rikkin (Cotillard) with a goal of finding the Apple of Eden so they can stop violence and aggression once and for all. To find the Apple of Eden, Callum must channel his ancestor via the Animus, a machine which uses DNA to send people mentally back in time to see how their ancestors stabbed people in lots of fun and interesting ways. This is all monitored by Abstergo CEO and senior Templar, Alan Rikkin (Irons).
The film boasts an impressive cast including two-time Academy Award nominee Michael Fassbender (who also produces), Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard, along with Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Michael K. Williams and Charlotte Rampling. Regrettably this cast list offers a promise of prestige that it simply doesn’t deliver. The cast’s astonishing talent is never utilised to any real degree.
There is a deep lore in the universe regarding the centuries long battle between Assassins and Templars. This is always going to be difficult to get across in the short time frame of the film, but the film seems to spend more time explaining the rules of the Animus or the search for the McGuffin of Eden instead of actually developing plot or characters.
(Dont look at his erection)
In the video games the historical characters have always been the main focus, whether it be Altair, Ezio or any of the other protagonists; the modern day has always been a vessel to tell a story in history. In contrast, this film has done the opposite and doesn’t develop the ‘historical’ characters at all, proving to be little more than a two-dimensional segue for the action scenes.The plot never picks up any momentum or weight. We spend most of the film on the not-so-interesting modern day while the plethora of history is used for an enormous 3 scenes.
What Stood Out
For me those 3 scenes I mentioned where the films saving grace. Justin Kurzel and his team have done a fantastic job with the visuals and aesthetics, and just making it feel like Assassin’s Creed. The soaring camera shots over battles following eagles (so many eagles), city shots complete with towers and haystacks, the unique combat with the hidden blade, the jumps, climbs, roof runs, and dives all scream Assassin’s Creed. The choreography is fantastic, parkour is top-notch, and although the fights are not always perfect, sometimes leaning a bit too much towards shaky-cam, they are still thrilling to watch.
(Hold my beer)
The Assassin’s Creed game series took a lot of video game tropes and put their own twist on it using the Animus, the machine in the Assassin’s Creed universe that allows users to access the past of their ancestors. Deaths and failures are due to becoming ‘desynchronised’, invisible walls are due to ‘inaccessible memories’, everyone speaks English because the Animus translates for the user. Interestingly in the film, all the past events are subtitled and spoken in Spanish even though it had an out.
The film has several nods to its videogame counterpart, most of which are a nice fan service such as the Bleeding Effect. Except one awful scene where Cal breaks the Animus from diving as Aguilar, to have Sofia mutter “Leap of faith…” Ugh…
Video games have never really translated well to the film format. We love our video games because they’re interactive. They put us as the star and let us choose what happens. Sure we follow a plot, but games make us feel like we’re in control. Assassin’s Creed is one of the better video game movies although that isn’t really saying much. I must respect the film for trying to replicate the feel of the games, and obviously the target audience are fans of the games but it would have been nice to remember it’s a film first. Whether a fan of the series or not, you’ll find the video games the better medium for telling it’s story.