Assassin’s Creed, based on the Ubisoft video game series, is a chaotic movie.
Murderer Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender, who also produces) is kidnapped by the modern day Knights Templar to locate the Apple of Eden, an artifact that contains the seeds of man’s first disobedience and has the power to end free will. This will not only eradicate all violence in the world, but also allow the Knights Templar to rule it. To find the Apple, Lynch is forced to participate in Sophia Rikkin’s (Marion Cotillard) Animus project. Lynch’s mind is jacked into the Animus device, which reads his DNA patterns and allows him to inhabit the consciousness of his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha (also Fassbender), the last known possessor of the Apple and a member of the Assassin’s Creed in 1492 Spain.
Director Justin Kurzel, Fassbender, Cotillard, director of photography Adam Arkapaw, co-writer Michael Leslie and composer Jed Kurzel reunite after working on last year’s Macbeth, which they made visceral and unsettling. They and their new teammates bring a similar mentality to Assassin’s Creed, which isn’t good because Assassin’s Creed is a movie that should have more fun.
Despite the lack of realism, the movie has an interesting premise. Making assassins good guys is already kind of silly, something you have to deal with if you ever play the games, but it could work with the right storytellers. If there had been a sense of adventure, the correct types of performances, astonishing visuals and a script that didn’t take itself too seriously, Assassin’s Creed could’ve been good.
Even with the long history of terrible-to-mediocre video game movies, everybody involved with this project was talented enough to make Assassin’s Creed the first-ever legitimately good video game movie. Kurzel, who made Medieval Scotland genuinely terrifying in Macbeth, does so again with the Spanish Inquisition in Assassin’s Creed. He has also shown himself to be a decent action director.
However, he, writers Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, his effects team and editor Christopher Tellefsen drag this movie down. If you are not a fan of the games, prepare to be confused. You will not get a sense of who any of the characters are, you will not know why an object that destroys free will exists, you will not know why the Templar uses violence to get rid of violence and you will not know why, despite a $125 million budget, the movie at times literally looks like a video game.
None of the CGI is convincing. This could have been passable with the things that are supposed to be Lynch’s hallucinations, but even those effects are unforgivable.
This movie also lacks blood. Lots of people in Assassin’s Creed get stabbed or cut, but only a few — both on and off camera — actually bleed. This wouldn’t be an issue if the movie was good otherwise, but obviously, that’s not the case.
The guards at Abstergo don’t carry guns, some scenes are foreshadowed in paintings to make the movie seem more artistic than it actually is and, for some reason, using the Animus device out of your own free will too much speeds up your aging process. These may seem like nitpicks, but they are significant parts of the movie.
Another thing that doesn’t make sense about this movie is the performances. Even in screwy action movies, good performances is a must, but Fassbender, Cotillard and the majority of the supporting cast act like they’re going for awards. Assassin’s Creed doesn’t need that. Their superior performances help show some comradery among the characters, but not even that informs you about what’s going on.
Fassbender and Cotillard are two of the best actors in the world. Even when the script and the direction fail, their scenes together elevate the movie when you’re not watching Assassins kill religious bigots.
Fassbender gets to showcase his acting chops, cry for dramatic tension, show off his delicious muscles, work with actors almost as talented as he is and reunite with his Macbeth director. Also, the game series takes place in different locations and time periods, which would not only be fun for one movie, but for several. In certain scenes, it’s easy to see why he wanted to get this made.
Some of the action scenes are abysmal, but most are fine. You will probably feel a sense of satisfaction when you see de Nehra and his colleagues do their thing. Admittedly, these scenes have some of the same problems as the rest of the movie, but they’ll keep you from walking out.
Just go play one of the games or watch a gameplay video on YouTube. It’ll make more sense.