No One Expects the Spanish Assassination
Ubisoft’s popular franchise Assassin’s Creed finally hits the big screen. There’s a joke to be made about leaps of faith, but let’s skip that.
The Assassin’s Creed movie follows the formula of the first few games of the franchise. Some of it is set in the present, and some of it is set in the past following the genetic ancestor, wherein most of the action happens.
Michael Fassbender plays the dual roles of Callum Lynch and his genetic ancestor, the Assassin, Aguilar de Nerha, an Assassin active during 15th century Spain. Lynch is abducted by Abstergo, in this movie represented mostly by Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard). We learn that Abstergo stalks people descended from various caretakers of a relic only known as the Apple of Eden, possession of which would allow Abstergo to cure humanity of violence. Or so they say. Locked into a machine known as the Animus and forced to wear drab clothing stolen from other generic “you’re not a prisoner here” organizations, Lynch then becomes the latest guest of Abstergo’s, forced to relive the memories of his Assassin ancestor in a bid to find the Apple.
As a fan of the series, I really, really wanted to like this movie. Hell, the trailers looked good. But knowing how badly a lot of videogames translate when they make it to the big screen, I stayed apprehensive, and well…
The action was on point. The combat pretty. Though it suffers from the typical “look cool for the sake of looking cool“, they’re fun enough to watch. Lots of hidden blade action, assassination, and then rooftop running that… doesn’t quite work. We get some pretty good acrobatics from the Assassins, but again this suffers from 2cool syndrome.
If you asked most anyone about the Assassin’s Creed franchise, the first thing that comes to mind is parkour. I feel like it doesn’t get used properly visually. Instead of the thrill of a chase scene or the suspense of an Assassin getting ready to take out their mark, we just end up with some fairly generic scenes that somehow don’t quite make it.
On the flip side (heh) the game’s iconic Leap of Faith makes it into the movie, and is actually rather cool. Doubly cool when you learn that the film’s lead stuntman made the Leap for real, more or less. (Though they didn’t make this one Leap of Faith that I thought would be logical in terms of visual storytelling, but eh.)
Speaking of visuals, the costumes were really pretty to look at, in the 15th century part of the story at least. Though majority of the narrative is set in modern times, it’s obvious which part the filmmakers preferred to pay attention to. While I can’t really blame them, the result is a horribly unbalanced story that can get tiring to follow, which admittedly is accurate to the first four games in the franchise.
Remember how dull the first game got? This movie’s got that down to a T. And unlike the first game, it doesn’t even have a good story to get you through it; but not for lack of trying, mind you. Fassbender and company really do well, delivering some fairly good performances despite the lackluster script. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to save the film. Even Jeremy Irons ends up amazingly dull, and the man’s supposed to be the villain.
As a whole, the Assassin’s Creed movie definitely falls short. It’s got some high points (heh) and definitely does its best to appeal to fans of the franchise. Easter Eggs abound for the sharp eyed. If you’re into plotless action films, this might be a good movie for you. However, it totally fails to deliver on the entertainment factor and the story is an outright struggle to put up with at some points.
There are other movies that deliver a more accurate Assassin’s Creed feel than this one, and as a matter of fact, there was a short film meant as advertisement some years ago that was a better watch than this one was.
While not quite utter trash, I can’t quite recommend the movie to other people, either. Like the games, I hope they do better with the next one. I hope.