Assassin’s Creed The Movie

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Movies based on video games have a reputation for being cheesy, often low budget affairs with bad acting and even worse dialogue. As a massive fan of the Assassin’s Creed series of games (I may have an Ezio costume in my closet…) I was waiting with baited breath to find out whether the movie would deliver on the promise of the games. The game world is rich with lore and historical potential and the assassins themselves are super human warriors who sprint and leap from rooftop to rooftop, vanquishing their enemies with slick efficiency then fading into the crowd with shadowy stealth. It’s a world that seems ripe to be harvested into a fast-paced and larger than life action movie. Unfortunately the Assassin’s Creed movie fails to realise this potential.df-01952_r_crop

Directed by Justin Kurzel, the film stars Michael Fassbender as Cal Lynch, a death row convict and assassin descendent, and Marion Cotillard as Sofia, a lead scientist and Templar working for Abstergo Industries. With few directing credits under his belt, Kurzel seems like a strange choice to direct this big budget blockbuster. He previously worked with Fassbender and Cotillard on Macbeth (2015) and seems to have brought the same dark and humourless tone to the Assassin’s Creed movie. The biggest problem with this movie is that it’s dry and never manages to find the fun inherent in a world with super humans. There’s very few moments where the audience is given what they came to see, assassin’s unleashing their exceptional skills in captivating action scenes. The few scenes with such action failed to reach their potential, leaving the movie feeling flat overall with slight bumps in the road, rather than the adrenaline fuelled rollercoaster I was hoping for.3063243-acmovie1

It’s well acted movie, with a talented cast that manage to pull off some absurd dialogue with conviction and believability. The plump 125 million budget can be seen in the well crafted CGI of Abstergo’s Animus, the machine that lets Cal explore his ancestors memories. In the games, the animus is shaped like a simple lounge chair. The animus has been given a major upgrade in the movie, becoming a flexible arm that grips the wearer around the waist and allows them to dash and vault around the room in synchronised movement with their ancestor. It’s a clever idea that supports the notion that their body is learning to move and fight like an assassin, albeit one that shouldn’t be given too much thought as it runs into the same problems as modern day VR systems when the wearer runs out of space.assassins-creed-animus-design

The movie also seems to suffer from trying to preemptively become the first in a series while failing to deliver the thrills that would ensure a sequel. Many Assassin’s Creed tropes are left out of the movie. The Leap of Faith for example, is teased throughout the movie and it seems clear it’s leading to a grand climax where the Leap of Faith is executed in a moment of wholehearted trust and embracement of the creed. Instead this moment never arrives and the audience is left unfulfilled. There’s a wealth of lore that could have been used to give depth and intrigue newcomers to the world that is never explored, leaving character’s motivations confusing and seemingly trite.assassins-creed-gallery-04-gallery-image

With dual stories weaved into the premise of the movie, I wondered how the the writers would manage the challenge of creating two fleshed out protagonists. It quickly became clear that they didn’t, with Cal being given much more screen time and back story than his ancestor Aguilar. The latter is more of a single dimensional archetype serving to guide Cal in his development. Consequently the tribulations in his own life have little emotional impact on the audience as we never learn anything about him beyond the surface. Even the more substantiated characters though seem flat. Good and evil are not clearly defined in this movie which may have been an intentional statement on the ambiguity of morality but which results in a movie lacking in direction and an audience not knowing who to root for. A charismatic lead could have saved this but Fassbender is too dry in the role to rally enthusiasm for a morally ambiguous anti hero.

The Assassin’s Creed movie is a well acted, big budget movie that falls flat in thrills and in capturing the spirit of the games and their super-human protagonists. Attractive visuals aren’t enough to save poor character development and underwhelming action. Save your money on this one, stay home and play the games!

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