Convict Callum Lynch is taken in by Abstergo, a Templar science division devoted to tracking down the Apple of Eden. Callum is hooked up into the Animus and forced to relive the memories of his ancestor in order to find the artefact.
Video game movies have a bad reputation, and for good reason. We've never seen a truly successful adaptation from game to film and many of us thought Assassin's Creed would be the one to finally break the mould. The lore is rich and the concept is intriguing, but the filmmakers completely misunderstood why the game has such a large fan base and they crafted an utterly joyless, confusing and time wasting motion picture.
Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Apocalypse) stars as Callum Lynch, a convict whose bloodline links directly back to the assassin's creed, a brotherhood of warriors who stood against the Knights Templar in the name of free will. He is hooked into the Animus, a piece of equipment that allows it's user to relive the memories of their ancestors through genetic memory. Fassbender is easily the film's strongest asset, he's good but both of the characters he plays (Callum and his ancestor Aguilar) are thin and underdeveloped. Fassbender has been tied to the project for years, so it's a real shame that this didn't work out because he's one of the finest actors we have today.
Director Justin Kurzel has reunited with his Macbeth stars Fassbender and Marion Cottillard (Allied) and all of their involvement is why I'm shocked Assassin's Creed is so poor. Kurzel's Macbeth wasn't great but it was leagues above this follow up. What I can say is that Kurzel does a good job of making the film look good and directing some solid action scenes. Kurzel fails to inject any life into the project, both the characters and the plot are way too self serious. Considering the plot revolves around the search for a magical ball, you'd think we'd be able to have some fun. The lack of levity makes Assassin's Creed an absolute slog to sit through, this is not a long film by any means, but it sure does feel like it.
The animus itself makes very little sense. In the games, the player was simply hooked into a table bound machine. In the film however, Fassbender is strapped to a large mechanical arm in which he is able to fight and free fun. This piece of technology makes very little sense when you think about the movement happening on the other side. The concept of genetic memory is interesting, the idea that our DNA is encoded with the experience of our ancestors is both plausible and intriguing but that isn't a credit to the film because it was explored previously in the source material. It's never explained why Callum needs to be hooked up to such an elaborate piece of technology, can he alter the memories by acting differently or is he simply on rails? The choice to transform the animus into this dynamic but absurd piece of tech is simply one to make the film seem more exciting when in fact it makes very little sense.
Assassin's Creed's greatest flaw is that it completely misunderstands the draw of the games. We enjoy playing those games to spend time in the past, to leap from building to building and to fight hordes of enemies. The film spends 60% of it's run time in the present day and simply uses the past as a way of taking a break from the plot and focusing on some admittedly entertaining action sequences. Our characters are never developed in the past so there's never any reason for us to care or worry about them and the same can be said for our characters in the present. When we do get to spend a scene or two in the animus, we're constantly cutting back to Callum as he's leaping round an empty room fighting translucent baddies. The film literally takes all of the moments from the game you wish you could skip and makes that the majority of what we see on screen.
This is yet another example of why video games shouldn't be made into feature films, because plot is secondary to gameplay and that doesn't translate well onto the big screen. I'm giving Assassin's Creed a 3.8/10.
Are you going to check out Assassin's Creed? Let me know in the comments all your thoughts about the film and my review. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @JamesPorter97.