By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** out of 4
20TH CENTURY FOX
Seriously Hollywood, why and how do you take all these video games that already deliver a cinematic experience and still manage to bring it all down? You adapt comic books and popular literature into film well for the most part, why can’t you do the same to video games?
There is so much cinematic potential with popular video games, Resident Evil, Warcraft, Ratchet & Clank, Uncharted, The Last of Us, and yes, Assassin’s Creed. All of these games feel like a movie half the time when you play them, so it makes perfect sense to adapt those games into films.
And yet somehow, they still go downhill in the execution, the idea of an Assassin’s Creed movie sounds perfect on paper and the trailers and marketing looked very promising. I’m not a purist on Assassin’s Creed, I’ve played the games once in a while but I don’t know every single detail about the games.
So, what made me want to go see it? Michael Fassbender (X-Men franchise, Prometheus, Steve Jobs) as Ezio, wait, his name’s not Ezio in this movie? ARE YOU %^#&ING KIDDING ME!?! Apparently instead of representing the iconic characters from the games, the film decided to create their own characters (That’s right, it’s the Tokka and Rahzar Effect, and I have officially made a connection between Assassin’s Creed and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II!). Well, if his name’s not Ezio, then what it is? Callum Lynch, a character who bears a huge resemblance to Ezio that it’s completely pointless.
I wouldn’t mind so much if it was a film prequel or sequel like Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, but no, they just called it Assassin’s Creed. But something feels missing from the Assassin’s Creed movie…THE GODDAMN ASSASSIN YOU BASTARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!
False advertising aside, the visuals in the movie are very impressive and it captures what an Assassin’s Creed movie should look like, the action is good stuff and Michael Fassbender dons the hood nicely, despite the changed name. But that’s not saying much, the characters are bland, the pacing is dull, over reliance on CGI, and mostly generic PG-13 fare.
The film follows Callum Lynch (Fassbender), descendant of 15th century Spain assassin, Aguilar de Nerha (also played by Fassbender) who is selected for an experiment involving the latest revolutionary technology to unlock his genetic memories. He experiences the adventures of Aguilar through “PlayStation VR on Crystal Meth” and discovers that he is descended from a mysterious secret society called the Assassins.
Callum amasses knowledge of the Assassins and the skills to take on the ruthless and powerful Templar organization in the present day before they obtain a powerful artifact that can make them rule the world, the Apple of Eden.
The film also stars Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) as Sophia Rikkin, Jeremy Irons (Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Lion King, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) as Alan Rikkin, Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter franchise, In Bruges, Cavalry) as Joseph Lynch, Charlotte Rampling (Spy Game, Cars 2, 45 Years) as Ellen Kaye, and Michael K. Williams (Gone Baby Gone, The Road, 12 Years a Slave) as the ONLY actual character from the game, Baptiste, who previously appeared in the game, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed is mindlessly entertaining, impressive visuals that tried to represent the source material, and Michael Fassbender does a decent job as Ezio (Yeah, I’m calling his Ezio for the rest of the review, Screw You!), which is more than what I can say about most of the other video game to film adaptations. Unfortunately, even with some thought put into the production, it still falls in the trap of all the other video game adaptations, stock characters, forced logic on what normally makes a video game fun, and the plot is very confusing.
Where did the laboratory that was experimenting on Ezio come from? Why are people being experimented on in the first place? What is the story about the Apple of Eden, other than a plot device that made me tempted to make a Steve Jobs joke all throughout the film?
The movie either just left me with a bunch of questions unanswered or not enough reasons for me to pay attention to the dull characters. Perhaps if the movie showed the events as a character was telling the story behind it, it’d probably be a lot more interesting than listening to a bunch of wooden boards try to make conversation.
But with that said, there are aspects of the film I enjoyed, the sets and visuals, the action, Fassbender. Despite the script not making him an interesting character, Fassbender nails the look of Ezio and he kicks plenty of ass. I was a lot more engaged in the action sequences than what led up to the action, they probably should have made this movie a game but use the film clips as cutscenes, I’d play that.
However, an issue I did have with the action was the lack of blood and gore, the games for the most part were rated M by the ESRB, and obviously, you can’t get away with heavy gore in a PG-13 rated film. But I think the action would have been much more thrilling if they added blood and gore and went for the R rating, as is, it’s exciting but generic PG-13 fare, if an R-rated or director’s cut of the film comes out I would watch it.
Assassin’s Creed isn’t a horrible film adaptation of a video game; it captures the spirit of the game visually and Fassbender makes a cool Ezio. But I feel this movie could have been so much better than what we got.