Once video game franchises reach a certain point in popularity, it’s inevitable that Hollywood will want to cash in on the licence. To be honest, it’s a little shocking that Assassin’s Creed didn’t receive the full-blown cinematic treatment earlier. Now, after more games than appendages on a Human Centipede, is Assassin’s Creed the movie to watch this holiday season?
Firstly, the movie does take a lot of liberties. No matter how cinematic a game may be, there’s never going to be a perfect big screen adaptation of it. In knowing this, let’s get stuck into the review.
Assassin’s Creed starts its own timeline and has nothing to do with the video games. Instead of Desmond Miles and his ancestor Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad, we have Michael Fassbender playing both Callum Lynch and Aguilar de Nerha. Callum is the present-day character who is sentenced to death for a crime that’s never elaborated on. After being administered the lethal injection, he wakes up at Abstergo. The oh-so-evil corporation, which is run by the ever evil Templars, want his assistance in tracking down an ancient object, the Apple of Eden.
One of Callum’s ancestors, Aguilar, is an Assassin — the mortal enemies of the Templars — as are many of his family members. The Assassin’s Creed series works on the theory that all of the memories of your ancestors are stored in your DNA, because science. Callum has to use a massive machine called The Animus (more on that soon) in order to relive all of these memories. The process begins to take a toll on his psyche as Abstergo pushes forward to get what they want with one of the strangest world domination plans in movie history.
Oh and there’s something about Callum’s father killing his mother, but that’s supposed to be a dark backstory that’s more of an afterthought than anything else.
When watching Assassin’s Creed, try not to focus too much on the story, because you may leave with a lower IQ than when you entered the cinema.
The Animus, a staple of many Assassin’s Creed games, has been redesigned from a bed/chair into a mechanical arm that allows the user free movement. While it really did look fantastic, I had some questions about its usage, which were never added up. For example, Michael Fassbender’s character is given hidden blades in the present day to use in the machine, but he can also use other weapons in the memory. Not to mention the actor is suddenly using the device shirtless the last time he uses it. There really are a lot of odd choices.
Much like the first few Assassin’s Creed games, no one really cares about what’s happening to the present day character and his fellow prisoners. They’re all there to propel the story forward and take down Ubisoft- Abstergo, but it’s all forgettable, really. In fact, many scenes are either completely devoid of acting talent, or necessity.
Where the movie does shine are the scenes that take place during the Spanish Inquisition (did anyone expect that?). Everything really just looks and feels fantastic, but they’re short-lived. And, much like the games themselves, every scene transition is choppy and feels as though you’re going from mission to mission in a let’s play video. There’s no polish to the overall movie, which really does hurt it.
I have to once again applaud the scenery, actors, and stunts for the past scenes as they really bring the movie to life.
Verdict: Assassin’s Creed isn’t the worst video game adaptation out there, but it’s far from the best. Avoid watching it in the cinema and wait for a home rental.