Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Michael Fassbender, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Kenneth Williams, Ariane Labed and Charlotte Rampling
Assassin’s Creed reunites director Justin Kurzel and actors Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender (who worked together on 2015’s Macbeth) for a fun adaptation of the the popular video game.
The story centers on Calum Lynch (Fassbender), a descendant of a secret society known as the Assassins. He’s recruited by Sophia Rikkin (Cotillard) and subsequently forced into the Animus, advanced technology which unlocks his genetic memory and allows him to assume the life of his ancestor Aguilar during the Spanish Inquisition. It’s these flashbacks that allow him to acquire the skills needed to take down the modern day Templars who are holding him and other Assassins hostage.
Fassbender says they chose that timeline because “we wanted to get a brand new timeline from the games and play wit history.” That means this original story is now canon in the game world. As such, Kurzel focused on making the 15th century scenes as accurate as possible by using real locations and avoiding the camp that befalls many a movie adapted from a video game. What follows is a series of beautifully shot scenes with minimal dialogue that almost make you feel like you’re in the game. And according to Fassbender, he performed about 95% of the stunts (just not that 150 ft Leap of Faith because…well, you know!) to add to the authenticity.
I can’t say that this breaks the video game movie curse but it does put forth a decent effort. The Aminus scenes alone are worth the ticket price because they deliver all the action you could ever want from the film. Rather than showing a guy writhing in a chair, Kurzel makes him more active by adapting the Animus into a mobile arm that allows Lynch to jump and flip—those scenes perfectly intercut with the ones in which his ancestor is performing the same actions.
Where the film falters is in the storylines outside of 15th Century Spain. In the real world, Sophia believes she’s doing good by her subjects when, really, she’s only after the Apple of Eden which supposedly fixes the aggression trait in people. She thinks she can save humanity with it but her father Rikkin (played by Jeremy Irons) believes subjugation is the way to go. There is a lot of story in this film which makes it a little hard to follow at times. Plus, they drag down the pace. On top of that, we’re also dealing with an interesting group of assassins we barely get to see. I often found myself wondering who they were and from which timeline their ancestors came from.
Still, it’s an enjoyable film overall and not the worst of the bunch. Since we’ve only scratched the surface with the assassins, it’s clear that more films will follow. According to the Playlist, Fassbender says the movie was originally intended to be a trilogy. If they do decide to continue the story, I hope Kurzel’s team fixes the pacing and realizes that they don’t need to cram so much into one film. Makes for a smoother ride.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Assassin’s Creed is out in theaters now.