There are few things certain in life; death and taxes are two as is the general consensus that video game adaptation usually suck. There’s a couple of exceptions. The early Laura Croft movies weren’t so bad, Warcraft was pretty good and Resident Evil is fun, if not much else. However, for each one of those there are a plethora that are bad beyond belief; think Street Fighter, Prince of Persia and Super Mario Brothers. Which way will Assassin’s Creed fall then?
Assassin’s Creed tells the story of Callum Lynch, played by Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, Steve Jobs) who is about to be killed for murdering someone when he’s saved by Sofia, played by Marion Cotillard (Inception, La Vie en Rose). I say saved, the reality is the secretive Abstergo Industries takes him away to their secret lair after discovering he’s a descendant of Aguilar de Nerha.
De Nerha is part of the warrior assassins in 15th-century Spain who battle the Templar Order. At this particular time, Templar’s are after the Apple of Eden, said to contain the seeds of man’s first disobedience, and is right to be used to change man’s free will. Using the animus (what is essentially a giant virtual reality machine), they send Lynch back to the 15th century to find the Apple for them.
There’s a bit early in the film when Lynch mutters the words “what the fuck’s going on?” and this should be the strapline for the entire film. Assassin’s Creed is a dull movie, there’s no getting away from that. It fails to explain large swathes and explains other parts in too much detail that leads to boredom. You won’t have much of an idea of what’s occurring but that’s ok as you generally won’t care.
Michael Lesslie (Macbeth), Adam Cooper (Allegiant, Tower Heist) and Bill Collage (Allegiant, Exodus: Gods and Kings) are the three writers who must have either never played the game Assassin’s Creed or perhaps started to play it then got side-tracked by Fifa or something. Justin Kurzel (Macbeth, The Turning) is the man behind the camera who has clearly seen the game at least, some of the shots are very similar, but plainly isn’t great at dealing with action that switches between the 15th century and modern day.
One of the bigger problems of the film is that it doesn’t know, can’t make its mind up, if it’s a sci-fi brain-bender or a period action movie. It makes a ham-fisted attempt at both and therefore fails at either.
Fassbender stomps around in a mood as if he’s realised how bad the film is whilst making it. Cotillard, as a character, is unconvincing and Jeremy Irons, playing Rikkin – the man in charge of it all, is lost in a swathe of turtle necks. Brendan Gleeson who turns up as Fassbender’s father, should be thankful for the small role he has.
Fans of the game should do one thing and one thing only. Ignore the movie and instead stay in, save your money, and play the game which is so much better than this ham-fisted attempt at a movie.
Like many video game adaptations I’m sure someone looked at Assassin’s Creed and thought ‘this would be a great film’. I agree, it really would, but this isn’t it.