Movie Review: Assassin’s Creed (2016)

An original story set in the world of the best selling video games, Assassin’s Creed is the first in a new wave of game-to-movie adaptions of Ubisoft properties. The film stars Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch, who is taken into the Abstergo corporation, under supervision of Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cottilard) in order for them to dig into his past. Abstergo CEO Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) is particularly interested in the life of Aguilar de Nerha (also Michael Fassbender), a member of the Assassin Brotherhood in 15th century Spain, in the centre of the Spanish Inquisition, and an ancestor of Callum, as Aguilar may have a connection to the mythical Apple of Eden. Assassin’s Creed is directed by Justin Kurzel (2015’s Macbeth, also starring Fassbender).

+ the acting is fine, but hardly spectacular. With the main trio having five Academy Award nominations between them, and two wins, maybe I just expected something more.
+ action is flashy, and may appeal to fans of similar sword-fight loving fans, but too many cuts make it difficult to tell if what is going on is anything special at all, or just random flailing to the camera

– first off, and worst of all, the movie does not seem to particularly want to assosciate with the games. I can forgive an original plot, and therefore an original assassin, and at a stretch I could forgive a new, unique animus. But the Abstergo Corportaion has been so heavily included in the game series, with major characters and goals outlined so clearly that hearing these new values come from out of nowhere made me feel as if they were actively trying to distance themselves from the games
– the plot is as standard as it gets, despite having two timelines to play with. The modern day story is as bland as any other modern day action/thriller, and the 15th centruy affair is a very boring ‘protect person x’ deal. Similarly, I only counted one real assassination from a movie based on a game series built around working your way through a heirarchy to find your target
– no memorable music at all, which is disappointing considering the soundtracks to the game series are some of my favourites. Jed Kurzel (brother to director Justin) was in charge of the music, and this does not leave me excited at the upcoming Alien: Covenant. Why could they not just stick with Jesper Kyd, and he could make something as perfect as his beautiful main themes
– aside from the wonky plot, there are events which either conflict with or entirely contradict established lore (such as, in the opening moments, Aguilra having his ring finger removed to make way for the hidden blade. It is already established that by this time period that is no longer in practice)
– compared to the very violent series, the combat felt very “2010s action movie” standard, with very little (if any) blood or bone breaking to show for it. The action being chock-full of quick cuts on nearly every punch made this far more painstaking to watch, as a fan of the highly choreographed combat in the games

> the film has a single use of an F-bomb, and as soon as I heard it I couldn’t help but think it was an attempt at doing what Fassbender’s fellow X-Men star Hugh Jackman did in the Wolverine duology

Should you see this film: No. First and foremost, the movie butchers the established lore of the games, reducing the planned out assassinations into a stock standard action movie plot. As a movie, it is confusing and full of references only fans will get, but these turn from pleasant easter eggs to reminders that video games just do not work as movies. Avoid this one like a knife through the face.

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