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Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed

Movie
Director(s): 
In Theatres: 
Dec 21, 2016
Grade:
C
Running Time: 
115 minutes

I had my hopes that Assassin’s Creed would be the first decently good video game film adaptation to grace the silver screen. I enjoyed director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth last year, and with both Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard teaming up with him again I thought the Ubisoft game had a chance to do better than the many disastrous attempts that have come before it. I was wrong. While Assassin’s Creed isn’t terrible, unfortunately it’s not good, either.

 

Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is a murderer on Death Row who is about to be executed when the mysterious Abstergo Industries steps in and puts him under their own lockdown, essentially exchanging one prison cell for another. He is informed by their chief scientist, Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) that he is the descendant of Aguilar de Nerha, who was a member of the Assassin’s Creed during the Spanish Inquisition. The Creed was tasked with protecting an artifact of immense power, the “Apple of Eden,” from getting into the hands of the Templars who aim to use it to rule over all of society. Abstergo hopes to use their latest technology, the Animus, to synchronize Cal with his ancestor’s past so that he can relive his experiences and lead them to the location of the Apple.

 

Assassin’s Creed biggest flaw is with it’s absurdly generic storyline that struggles to make any sense whatsoever. It’s your basic good (Assassin’s) versus evil (Templars) trope but done in a way that is laughably bad. Nothing is explained despite plenty of exposition. The Apple of Eden is said to contain the genetic code of free will and that possessing it will allow the Templars to control mankind and eradicate violence. How? I’m not sure. Audiences are just supposed to take everything at face value. The film lays this flimsy foundation, builds its story on top of it, and then expects it not to fall apart.

 

Everything isn’t horrible, however, as the film is salvaged by its action sequences that take place within the Animus in 15th Century Spain. Fassbender also plays his Assassin ancestor Aguilar and, much like the games the film is based on, does plenty of free running parkour and fighting. These set pieces are beautifully shot and capture the spirit of the franchise. It’s a shame then that there are only three times Cal goes into the Animus to relive Aguilar’s memories. The rest of the time is spent in modern-day at Abstergo, where it becomes painfully obvious of the film’s lackluster script.

 

Assassin’s Creed does has a fantastic ensemble cast. Joining Fassbender and Cotillard, are Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, and Michael K. Williams. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how good an actor is when the script is terrible. There are brief moments where Fassbender’s and Cotillard’s talents shine through, but the film is overwhelmed by equally hammy dialogue. It’s third act is also rushed to bring everything together into a less-than-noteworthy conclusion.

 

There are some references that fans of the game franchise will enjoy, and they will no doubt have a better understanding of the story than non-fans, but even then Assassin’s Creed still struggles in telling a cohesive story. It’s clear that Ubisoft expects to turn the games into a film franchise with so many story elements left unfinished. Whether or not that’ll actually happen remains to be seen.

 

I took a leap of faith hoping that Assassin’s Creed would put an end to the lineage of bad video game film adaptations. It’s unfortunate that it repeats history’s same mistakes and delivers a mediocre film that fails to live up to its console counterpart. The action was entertaining and the re-imagined Animus was a welcomed addition, but its basic story and terrible script keep the film from soaring too high.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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