Assassin’s Creed, directed by Justin Kurzel, is a film that has hints of potential. However, a failing on nearly every front, leaves this film lacking in anything memorable, exciting or interesting. It’s a shame to see a film that could have really been something that stood out (in the video game movie space); completely fail to capitalise on the opportunities it had. This is one of those films that quickly loses you and then never manages to pull you back in – no matter what it throws at you. But let’s get into the fuller review and see just where this film goes wrong.
The story sees Callum Lynch – played by Michael Fassbender – be abducted by a mysterious organisation known as Abstergo. It is there that he meets, Sofia – played by Marion Cotillard – who tells him of a device that will link him with one of his ancestors; Aguilar, a man who was an Assassin during the Spanish Inquisition. Sofia’s intent is to look at the life of, Aguilar – through Cal – and discover the location of the Apple of Eden, a device that the mysterious organisation has been searching for, for some time. It is said the device has great power, and with that power, Abstergo could accomplish dangerous things.
It’s difficult to know where to start with Assassin’s Creed, as nearly every aspect of the film is a mess. Let’s take characters for example. Or as I should say: people who are there for no other purpose than because the story needs them to do things. Nobody in this film felt like a person. At no point did I get a clear sense as to who any one was, or why I should care about them. The film is so intent on trying to cram its story down your throat that it completely forgets to build characters within that story. It leaves the film feeling completely void of life.
The main character is a perfect example of this. Callum Lynch is introduced and then thrust into the main aspect of the story in such a sudden and jarring way, that it was impossible to get any clear sense of him as an individual. Before I knew it, he was in the Animus (the device that they use to connect Lynch with his ancestor) and was fighting random bad guys during the Spanish Inquisition. The idea of context and set-up are complete mysteries to this film.
But then what’s odd is that with the film being so intent on trying to give as much time to its story, while failing to develop any of its characters, is that it still doesn’t achieve anything with said story. I never cared about the direction of the narrative, nor was it that well explained. The film just kept moving at such a break neck speed, that my brain was just unwilling to invest or keep up.
Who I feel really sorry for in all of this, are the actors who were left with nothing to do in the film. Great actors like: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling etc. None of them were given anything to work with. I’ve already pointed out the films lack of character building, which then seems even worse when I consider the actors they had at they’re disposal. Something went really wrong in all of this, and I’ll be really interested to find out where the blame may lie.
Assassin’s Creed now also has the honour of containing some of the worst action I’ve seen in some time. Not only is it boring, but it is incomprehensible and slightly nausea inducing. What’s so annoying is that from a structural standpoint, the action is well laid out and had the potential to be amazing in its scope. But unfortunately we are never permitted to see any of it; quick edits and shaky handheld camera movements mean that everything is obscured or simply impossible to see. The frustration began to build quickly as I knew that I was going to have so many more lost opportunities when it came to the action, but that frustration soon turned into complete disinterest. Instead of me getting a little excited at seeing another fantastical action set-piece, I instead began to dread them, as I knew what was coming: action that just simply bored me, and quite literally showed me nothing. What’s the point in it if I can’t actually see it!
I could probably go on for a bit about the action in the film, as it really did infuriate me. But I think you get the point. What I’ll finish up on is the aspect of the film that did sometimes bring me a hint of enjoyment. There are parts of this film that look really good. Now there are also parts that look bloody awful; cold, futuristic science labs are not the most attractive of aesthetics for your film, and murky difficult to see cities that are obscured by so much fog it almost becomes a joke. But, every once in a while the film would shine with a frame or a scene that did look brilliant; while these moments were fleeting, they were the only real thing I had to gain enjoyment from.
Actually one other thing I’ll praise the film for is the brilliant work that the art department and costume designers showed in Assassin’s Creed. Particularly in segments that take place in the past, it is clear to see that a lot of time went into the construction and the design of the sets, and it is also clear that the people working in the costume department spent a lot of time sewing together some really detailed and authentic looking clothing. Those people deserve some genuine appreciation for the hard work they put into the film. It is just a shame the rest of the film wasn’t there to support them.
I mean… I don’t think I can say much else about the film at this point. To be frank, I don’t personally enjoy bashing on a film like this. As a real lover of cinema, I never gain any pleasure from doing reviews like this, I like to talk about the films I love and why I love them. So I’m going to wrap this one up, as I think I’ve said enough when Assassin’s Creed is concerned. What I would recommend is that you go watch director Justin Kurzel’s previous film: Macbeth. It came out in 2015 and it is a true work of art.
So yes, I will not be recommending Assassin’s Creed. There is no need to see this film, and it can simply be added to the pile of failed video game movies. On to the next attempt I guess – good luck Hollywood.
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