Assassin’s Creed – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael K. Williams
In cinemas January 1st
Generally video game adaptations are greeted with a collective groan by the non gaming movie going public. Historically they haven’t been very good and at this stage video game graphics are so realistic and the experience so immersive you have to wonder why they bother. After all the non gamers won’t appreciate it and the gamers will probably feel short changed. However when a series of games has sold 93 million copies filmmakers are undoubtedly blinded by all those potential bums on seats.
That explains the filmmaker’s motivation. The actors I’m not so sure about. For this boasts a completely stellar cast who definitely don’t need the work and are usually very choosy in the material they choose to interpret on the big screen. In other words they’d usually run a mile from a video game adaptation. And having watched this I would say that would have been a wise choice.
It’s a while since I played Assassin’s Creed but I definitely don’t remember it being completely bonkers. This plot however is. While it retains the very basic universe of the game (and if you haven’t played them and don’t know it I really don’t have enough of a word count to go into it here) this is an entirely original story. Fassbender plays Callum, a man on death row, who is saved from execution by the mysterious Abstergo Industries by virtue of the fact that his ancient ancestor was Aguilar de Nerha, a member of a secret group of assassins who were responsible for protecting the apple of Eden (yes THAT apple – which to be fair must be pretty rank by now!) However, Alan (Irons), head of Abstergo, has decided that he needs to retrieve the apple in order to give the order of the Templars (of which he is a member) supreme power over the world. Or something like that. To be honest I got lost about an hour in and never really managed to figure the rest of it out.
This has a ridiculously complicated premise for anyone who doesn’t know the game (and even then you will be confused) and the script is all over the place. It hops between eras as Fassbender relives his ancestors battles while hooked up to an Animus machine (which kind of resembles a giant robotic arm that is attched to your spine) but this means you have no clue who is doing what half the time. Both Fassbender and Cotillard try but even their powerhouse talents get lost in the sheer turgidness of this.
I have thought and thought and wracked my brain for a redeeming feature and the only thing I can come up with is the final visual which is striking. That’s it. And even that is a stretch. I would imagine given the calibre of the cast, filmmakers were trying to elevate this to something more than your average game adaptation but they have failed miserably. In trying to be too clever it actually comes across as completely silly.
While game adaptations generally aren’t high art some of them can be a bit of fun. You don’t need to understand Resident Evil to appreciate the fact it has garnered numerous sequels through not trying too hard to be something it’s not and giving the fans what they want. It pains me that my first movie review of 2017 is a negative one but I can honestly say you should save yourself the admission fee on this flick. It is two hours you will never get back and you really can’t unsee the stupidty.