Based on the popular video game franchise, Assassin’s Creed tells the muddled story of career criminal, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) who must help the Templar Order find the Apple of Eden, an object that controls free will and can stop violence somehow, by delving into the memories of his ancestor who was an assassin during the Spanish Inquisition. The film also stars Marion Cotillard, Michael K. Williams and Jeremy Irons and is directed by Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, Macbeth).
My Thoughts On The Characters And Story
Let me preface this by saying I was a massive Assassin’s Creed fan way back when. I bought and played the shit out of the first game, Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood and the fourth installment, Revelations. My love for the franchise kind of fizzled by the time Assassin’s Creed III-present titles rolled out so I can’t speak to the enjoyment factor of those latter installments.
The mythology and atmosphere of the Assassin’s universe, particularly in those first few games, is so rich and vast that you would really have to go out of your way to mess it up.. This film adaptation of Assassin’s Creed manages to go out of its way to mess it up. I genuinely do not know why they wouldn’t just make an adaptation based on that very first game with Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad and Desmond Miles. Certain fans of the game may be butthurt for a quick second if the filmmakers choose to follow the game along exactly, then immediately forget, and regular moviegoers who have never played the game will become immersed in this incredible world; bottom line is you will make money regardless, movie studio. The game certainly isn’t perfect, however it has a set universe with an intriguing premise and is gorgeous looking… Also the occasional fantastical glitch:
Studios want to make an “original” take on it with new characters? Eh okay that’s fine, but by starting fresh you need to ensure you have characters that viewers can connect to and possess certain traits that make them a distinct personality. Virtually every single character in this is the same. effing. person… A one-dimensional paper cut out entity that manages to have some of the best actors in the business portraying them! The baddies during the past were all disposable and had bad haircuts. The Assassins are these looming figures that are apparently willing to die for the Creed and they constantly tell you that they will die for it yet during a scene when such a prospect arises, the actions of the characters do not line up with the bullshit they’ve spewing the whole movie and it truly deterred from these characters you didn’t care about anyway. I probably would have at least respected them more if they practiced what they preached.
The Present-Day Characters Weren’t Any Better…
The modern incarnation of the Templar Order is the boogeyman that mooches off living in your closet that is evil for the hell of it. Jeremy Irons was reduced to being a stagnant figure throughout the film that only stares lovingly at computer monitors. Cotillard single-handedly made this year’s Allied watchable and having her talents combined with Fassbender’s could not save their terribly one-note characters. These two are some of the best actors working in Hollywood today, yet they had absolutely nothing to work with here. Even with all going against them, I enjoyed watching their scenes together since they do possess a lovely chemistry together. There were others present in the same Abstergo facility as Lynch but they are just so underdeveloped that you genuinely do not care about any of them or what happens to them. I wish the only issue with this film were the characters but unfortunately, it’s not…
How Were The Other Aspects To Assassin’s Creed?
There were times when this movie felt like it was directed by two different people; there were the grand, sweeping epic shots that incorporated the eagle, an animal held to the highest regard in the game franchise, and I genuinely loved these shots. I loved the incorporation of the eagle and just how beautiful certain sequences looked aesthetically. That is where I could spot the Justin Kurzel who directed Fassbender and Cotillard masterfully in the 2015 adaptation of Macbeth… Unfortunately these shots do not make up the majority of the film. Assassin’s Creed is another example of the seventy quick cuts for the same shot because execs probably believe this heightens tension because of how fast paced it is. There are hints of some incredible fight choreography work and chase sequences that endure the shaky cam plague that engulf many action films.
THIS ^ DOESN’T CREATE SUSPENSE.
The dialogue is just.. So bad in Assassin’s Creed I have no other words for it. There is an instance where Fassbender has one hand on Cotillard’s neck and slams the other hand on the adjoining wall then declares, “… Don’t… Mess With Me…” What? Why is this here? There is also a major issue with the whole point of the film that no character can accurately justify. They seem to say the first thing that pops into their head in order to justify having a movie and it just doesn’t work: they glide past how they brought Lynch to the facility in the first place because if they had technology that BRINGS PEOPLE BACK FROM DYING, I’m sure the government would like to know how they developed such a thing. Character motivations are all out of whack and they just go with the flow with whatever shit sticks to the wall. They also skid by the idea that this thing has the power to somehow control free will… Free Will. You can’t bring up the Apple from Bible and say, “welp. That’s all, folks!” and if you do, the film needs to have way more going for it in order to suspend my disbelief that much.
There are also a few scenes that lingered much too long and easily could have been cut down a peg or two. One scene could have been cut entirely and that is the 10 or so minutes at the beginning of the film that introduces Callum as a child. A major aspect of the whole film is just reiterating what we saw in that scene! If they were to have cut it out completely, it would have made no difference at all except maybe make me and a couple other viewers happier they can leave sooner.
In my humble opinion, Assassin’s Creed is not the great video-game-to-film adaptation we’re looking for. It is a beautiful mess of a picture that wastes the talents of a ridiculously amazing cast and cannot justify the silly ideas being brought to the forefront.
Take A Leap Of Faith With These Other Reviews…
Assassin’s Creed receives 1.5/5 Matt Damon heads.