UBISOFT’S Assassin’s Creed seemed the ideal video game franchise to break the infamous game to movie curse. With the whole of history to choose its setting from, an exciting and relatively deep thriller-style plot and plenty of potential for intrigue and action, it was a perfect set up.
Unfortunately, the Michael Fassbender led flick doesn’t quite make the leap of faith. Fassbender takes on two roles: protagonist Callum Lynch and his ancestor, the 15th century Spanish Assassin Aguilar.
Sadly, neither of these characters get the development required to lead the film and as a result the characters feel a little flat, soliciting little emotion from the audience even when in extraordinary peril.
From the opening moments, the plot is a convoluted and at times unwieldy mess that often jars with what has been established in the games for the sake of mass appeal and Hollywood effects.
The assassins creed movie is really good. Tons of awesome game references put in like the underground tunnels, the way climb ect
— Kerri Gahn (@Rawr_Beast17) January 2, 2017
Whilst this simplification would be understandable, several set pieces still don’t click together as they should and results in a story that, whilst fun, is certainly faulty.
The action is undoubtedly the films highlight, thanks to the help of parkour expert Damien Walters and stunt coordinator Ben Cook.
Whether it’s Lynch or Aguilar running, diving or fighting every blow feels perfectly placed. It isn’t the painfully vivid and realistic sort of violence found in films like The Raid, more like a well-choreographed wrestling match. Every sword, blade and projectile hits at the perfect time to make the fight scenes in Assassin’s Creed incredibly entertaining to watch.
It’s a shame, however, that the need for a PG-13 rating in America held back the bloodbath that the film could have been – there’s little to no blood seen throughout and that removes from the immersion a fair bit.
Similarly, the films cinematography is at times gorgeous. The landscape shots of both periods are breathtaking; the flashback scenes are set in beautifully recreated Spanish cities and the costuming, language (the scenes in the 15th century all feature Spanish language and subtitles) and set design all help these scenes to be the truly immersive learning experience that they are meant to resemble.
I'm amazed and baffled by the amount of talent in the cast of Assassins Creed, all of it criminally wasted.
— Sam Inglis (@24FPSUK) January 2, 2017
It’s a shame two talented actors (Marion Cotilard and Jeremy Irons) are wasted on forgettable and generic shadowy bad guys of Sophia and Alan Rikkin. These characters are presented with no frills and little in the way of motivations and yet some of their actions, particuarly in the third act, still seem out of character.
In fact all of their organisation, Abstergo, feels like a hugely wasted opportunity. There’s no screen time dedicated to explaining Abstergo’s place in the world beyond “evil-corp” or what their goals are beyond “free will control.”
Assassin’s Creed isn’t a bad movie – it’s action sequences are at times impressive, it’s dialouge passable. It’s just a shame there’s nothing about it that stands out – it never reaches the highs of storytelling or characterisation that the games are known for.