It’s kind of a running joke in film circles that if a video game is to be adapted into a film, it’s a dead cert that that film will be rubbish. You only need to look at some examples – the many Resident Evil pictures (with a new one on the way), Street Fighter (known largely for Kylie Minogue in a poor supporting role), the famously poor Super Mario Bros. – video games do not have a good rap in Hollywood. When it was announced that a film was to made of the successful Assassin’s Creed franchise, hopes were raised – would this be the video game film to finally get it right? Well, sadly for gamers, the answer is a definite no.
Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is sentenced to death, but saved from his execution by the mysterious Dr Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard). He learns of a revolutionary technology, the Animus Project, that unlocks his genetic memories and allows him to experience the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers that he is descended from a secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills. He hunts for the powerful Apple of Eden, using the memories of the past to track it down and his newfound skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organisation in the present day.
I have barely played the Assassin’s Creed games – I have maybe spent an hour or two with these games – but they seem an authentic representation of them. Perhaps if you are already a fan, you will enjoy this movie a lot more – you’ll be able to fill in the many blanks in the story and appreciate it (if you were being cynical, you’d think it was deliberately under-developed to get people to go and buy the game). Either that, or that they’re saving information for the sequel they angle for but are unlikely to ever receive.
I’m not a stupid person, but I found it confusing and fairly dull to follow. A lot of things happen just because, and the sequences in the past seem completely unnecessary to the plot (sure, they add fast-paced yet tedious action, but that’s all there is to it). Meanwhile, in the present, everything builds up (as much as the tepidness of this film can build up) to a painfully dull ending – if you somehow make it to this point in the movie without feeling disappointed, this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Perhaps if the actors were given something to do, the film might be redeemable. Fassbender is the lead, and sells the action sequences well – he’s experienced with this kind of movie, and although the action is let down with the choppy editing to the present, these bits are the best thing in the film. It goes on to waste actors of the standard of Cotillard and Jeremy Irons, who have little screen time and make no impression besides the familiarity of their faces. Worse still for Brendan Gleeson – I should have thought a cameo appearance like this one was beneath him.
If you’re a fan of the Assassin’s Creed games, I guess you may have a different opinion on this film. Even so, a film should make the effort to cater for all aspects of its audience – if it is incomprehensible to a majority of its viewers, it’s doing a poor job. There are action sequences here that work (although only partially), but the rest of the movie is a complete mess. It’s confusing, it wastes its actors and it teeters between amusingly poor and completely mind-numbingly dull.
Director: Justin Kurzel
Cast: Cal Lynch/Aguilar (Michael Fassbender), Marion Cotillard (Sofia), Jeremy Irons (Rikkin), Brendan Gleeson (Joseph Lynch), Charlotte Rampling (Ellen Kaye), Michael Kenneth Williams (Moussa)
Running Time: 115 Mins
Country: UK/France/Hong Kong/USA
Image credit: http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/assassins-creed