Assassin's Creed Review
A centuries old feud between the Assassin’s Creed and the Knights Templar
Set between the present day and 15th century Spain, Assassin’s Creed does its best to leap from game console to movie screen.Assassin’s Creed sees the reunion of actors Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard along with director Justin Kurzel and writer Michael Leslie for the latest in a video game film adaptation. Having previously worked together on Macbeth, the fodder for inspiration this time around seems somewhat lacking. Scientist Sofia Rikkin (Cotillard) and her father Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) are dead set on eradicating the world of violence and determined to bring about peace.However in order to bring their plan to fruition they need to discover the whereabouts of a lost and sacred artefact the Apple Of Eden. Sounds like a task Tom Hanks’s Robert Langdon would be better suited for. But no, in order to locate this item the father and daughter duo are using ancestral descendants of an ancient order called the Assassins, as well as the Animus - the key to unlocking the location of the Apple of Eden.
Callum Lynch (Fassbender) has no idea of his historical past or its significance, even when he was a child recklessly jumping off of buildings on his bike he had no idea. That is, he didn’t until he found himself within the Animus Project in Spain. Confused and disorientated, Sofia hooks Callum into the Animus so that he can re-walk the steps of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha, an assassin who ruthlessly worked to oppose the Knights Templar, in an effort to lead her to the Apple of Eden. It’s not long before Callum starts experiencing hallucinations and begins to accept his ancestral lineage discovering the truth behind the quest for the Apple of Eden.
The only knowledge I have of the video game is from the adverts on TV and the film seems to match those to a tee. The parts of the film set in 15th century Spain look like something right out of a video game and the majority of the action is packed into these sequences. Remarkably the camera work for these fight scenes was, for me, incredibly clear and not like the confusing blur you would normally expect. Plenty of shots swooping over the Spanish vistas work to set the scene and establish the environment for these jumps back in time but for the most part the CGI looks heavy and more than a little bit clunky.
Although not quite enough to make up for the excessive CG, there are some good chases on horseback which are well shot and add a bit of quality to the film. The fight sequences are also reasonably good and extremely well choreographed. A lot of the film is set within the institute where the Animus is kept, an underground looking institute housing all the descendants and a vast amount of technology under lock and key. Surprisingly it’s here that the story is most confusing and intentionally or not, keeps its cards close to its chest.
Despite the potential for confusion, Fassbender doesn’t quite make an ass of himself in Assassin’s Creed
The cast are all good in their roles bearing in mind that it doesn’t seem like there was much to work with. Cotillard and Fassbender are both likeable and watchable. Cotillard’s Sofia is working in her father's shadow and is desperate to prove her worth but finds herself conflicted at the last hurdle. Fassbender’s Callum is fun to watch but aside from perhaps two briefly amusing moments, doesn’t give much away. Despite being given the most backstory in the film, the audience never really get the chance to learn much about Callum which makes his character an odd choice for a protagonist. Perhaps that was the idea but there are multiple points in the film that seemed designed for this very purpose but were never taken advantage of. Brendan Gleeson has a small but mostly pointless role and he is nowhere near used to his full potential. Likewise Charlotte Rampling is given a small role but again not utilised fully - one can only hope that subsequent films will fill in what this film missed.
While visually its all reasonably impressive, packing in a lot of action, there isn’t much substance to back it all up. The story kicks off and expects its audience to immediately understand what’s going on and, on the surface, it almost makes sense but scratch below and it really is just a confusing mess. With minimal backstory to any of the characters, it’s difficult to really root for anyone. Even though we know who our hero is supposed to be it’s not really explained why. The search for the sacred Apple Of Eden runs below the surface at all times but, once again, it seems like this is all just exposition to get the story up and running and doesn’t really go anywhere. I’d imagine that much of the story will get picked up and explained in more depth in sequels of which there are rumoured to be two in the works, although that will of course depend on this first film fares.
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