Assassin’s Creed (2016) – Review

When one goes to see a movie based on a video game a certain level of understanding should be brought to the table and that bit of understanding would be that there is a very good chance the movie is going to suck. From the bottom of the barrel Uwe Boll films (i.e. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale ) to the more fun but still far from good Resident Evil movies there really hasn’t been a really good film based off a video game property, even something as easy to do as a car chase movie resulted in the abysmal Need For Speed film, and now with Assassin’s Creed we find an entry that kind of falls right in the middle.

Though based on the popular Ubisoft game series this particular story does not use any of those games a reference but instead deals with a new character that of convicted murderer Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) who had been sentenced to death by lethal injection, but after his execution is carried out he is then “resurrected” by the scientists of Abstergo Industries. And why would a mysterious and powerful organization go to all that trouble to get their hands on a murderer? Well turns out that Dr. Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) has developed a machine called the Animus which allows the user to venture back in time to the life an ancestor via genetic memory. All displayed like the most kickass virtual reality game.

Could this be the future of PlayStation VR?

So the reason Abstergo Industries needs Callum Lynch is because he is the last surviving descendant of Aguilar de Nerha, a member of the Assassins Creed a secret society bent on preventing the evil Templar Order from taking over the world, and Aguilar is last person known to have in his possession the Apple of Eden, which the Templars need for their whole conquest of the world thing. And just what is the Apple of Eden? Well according to this movie it is the actually apple that Adam and Eve ate in defiance of God, and that if the Templars can retrieve the Apple they can remove freewill and end violence in the world once and for all. Now as MacGuffins go this one is beyond silly, sure Indiana Jones has gone after Holy relics but the actually apple from the Garden of Eden is something that breaks even my broad suspension of disbelief. Sophia hints that its origins could be alien in nature but that idea is never explored and certainly doesn’t help the movie’s case at all.

Of course the reason people go to see they type of adventure movies is for all that kickass action, but being it is made clear that everything Callum experiences while hooked up to the Animus is just a glorified flashback, that all we see has happened hundreds of years ago and the outcome of these action scenes had already been laid out hundreds of years ago and that nothing Callum does is actually effecting anything, does tend to rob the film of any sort of emotional impact. Way to remove any sense of suspense movie. That the hero in a movie is most likely going to survive whatever daring-do his exploits throw at him is something most movie viewers are well aware of but in the case of Assassin’s Creed we are watching a character watching the life of another character through that persons eyes, but without any way to change things. So basically time travel without the danger of murdering your grandfather, though it does murder any sense of tension an action scene needs to function as a storytelling device.

What I wouldn’t do for a DeLorean and a Flux Capacitor right now.

The whole plot of this movie comes down to the current Templar Order repeatedly sticking kidnapped dudes into the Animus until one of them reveals the hidden location of the Apple of Eden, but where films like The Da Vinci Code have groups of people scrambling over the globe looking to crack some ancient mystery Assassin’s Creed spends 90% of the screen time in the research aspect of the hunt. Dress up all that research in as much virtual reality action scenes as you want the result is the same, and when the location of the Apple of Eden is revealed the movie wraps up in record time as if the filmmakers have suddenly realized how bored the audience has gotten.

The movie does have some nice elements to it; Michael Fassbender seems to be the one actor somewhat invested in the character he is playing but Jeremy Irons is clearly in “paycheck cashing mode” as Sophia’s evil Templar father, and then we have Marion Cotillard as Sophie who starts out vaguely interesting and then the movie ends with her character turning into an idiotic movie cliché. The producers claim that about 80% of what you see on screen is real and not CGI, and if that true I’m impressed because the parkour action sequences is about the only thing that stands out in this movie, but unfortunately the decided to use a horrible filter in the editing process that tends to make all these amazing action sequences look like the graphics of the video game the film is based on.

Not sure that was the way to go there guys.

Assassin’s Creed is certainly not the worst video game based movie, and the action scenes overall are thrilling, but as mentioned the very premise robs the film of any sense of tension and the overall plot about the “Apple of Eden” is ridiculous. With lowered expectations I found the film to be inoffensively entertaining but not one I could ever see myself visiting again.

Final Observations:

• Sophia wants to end violence across the globe but later seems shocked that this involves a magic doohickey that robs people of their freewill. Just how out of the loop with the Templars is she?
• Abstergo Industries kidnaps descendants of the Assassins to rob them of their genetic memory and then lets them hang out together in dayrooms for no Earthly reason.
• Trips in the Animus gives the user the combat knowledge of their ancestors, so once again either lock them up in tiny cells or kill them after they are no longer useful.
• The Templar Order arms their modern security forces with batons and crossbows. Is there something wrong with giving them guns? Was there a Templar code mentioned explaining this that I missed?
• The film ends with hints at a sequel and if such a thing were to happen it would most likely be direct to DVD movie and will not star anyone from this film…well maybe Jeremy Irons.

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