Director: Justin Kurzel
Writer: Michael Lesslie (screenplay), Adam Cooper (screenplay), Bill Collage (screenplay)
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson
Runtime: 140 min
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Released: 21 Dec 2016
Synopsis: Through Abstergo a company that creates a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the memories of his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha (Aguilar Of Nerha), in 14th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins and Templars, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.
Surely, this was going to be the one. That’s what gamers everywhere thought when the cast of Assassin’s Creed was announced. Two-time Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender. Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons. Plus Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling. Was it possible to get a better set of actors? Sadly, like far too many productions, “potential” didn’t translate into “quality.” Assassin’s Creed didn’t become the first based-on-a-video-game to breakthrough into cinematic greatness. Obtuse, narratively incoherent, and ultimately frustrating, it stands as another example of how hard it is to make a good mainstream movie out of a popular computer game.
The fundamental problem is the screenplay. I’m not qualified to judge whether the movie adequately represents the game but, regardless of how well it succeeds in that goal, it fails as a standalone piece of entertainment. Jumping back and forth in time from modern day to 1492, the story never grips the viewer and the characters are paper-thin. Even the fights fail to fully involve the viewer because they keep flipping between a traditional action point-of-view and a virtual perspective where we’re watching a (real) person fight shadows. No one can fault director Justin Kurzel (helmer of the 2015 Macbeth with Fassbender & Cotillard) when it comes to making Assassin’s Creed dynamic visual experience. His camera swoops and soars and he uses the score by his younger brother, Jed, to punch up key moments. (The music is effective, although a little in-your-face.) But the story…better luck next time.
The movie starts out in the 1980s with a scene that depicts a young boy, Cal Lynch, watching his father, dressed in assassin’s garb, murder his mother. Cut to 2016 – Cal, now a man (and played by Fassbender), awaits execution by lethal injection for a capital crime. Instead of dying, however, he is brought to a super-secret research facility in Spain presided over by two Templars – Alan Rikkin (Irons) and his scientist daughter Sophia (Cotillard). Their goal is to get Cal to use a machine called The Animus to experience the memories of an ancestor, an assassin named Aguilar, so he can pinpoint the location of the lost artifact The Apple of Eden.
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