Assassin’s Creed marks the latest Hollywood foray into the world of Video Games. A genre that has long been much maligned with dire releases, but with a powerful cast including the likes of Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard, can this movie finally break the mold?
Though I am a fan of video games, I haven’t played the Assassin’s Creed series, so I’m not entirely familiar with this franchise, but I shall review it as a standalone movie, rather than simply comparing it to the source!
The film revolves around Callum Lynch (Fassbender), a prisoner who is saved from execution by the Abstergo Foundation, a group claiming to have links to the Templers. Their goal is to retrieve the mythical ‘Apple of Eden’, an item which is said to possess the genetic code for free will, and vital in their mission to eradicate violence from society. The key to their mission is Callum, who by using their Animus Machine can use his genetic memories to relieve the events of his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha, to hunt down clues to the location of the apple.
The films main strengths lie in all the scenes taking place during the flashbacks, which occur during The Spanish Inquisition in 15th century Andalucía. These are the scenes that fans were looking forward too, and it’s here that the film delivers. The intensity in there scenes is fantastic, and the action is relentless. You also get a Game of Thrones vibe from here, which is always a promising sign! The rooftop chases are a series trademark, and they are executed with great precision, even featuring the infamous ‘Leap of Faith’.
Sadly, this is the highlight of the movie, and for some reason, the Assassin scenes are very limited, on my count, there were 3 scenes in the Iberian. The film mostly focuses on the present day, and the events that take place at Abstergo. How Abstergo are under pressure from above to fulfill their mission, to a messy story line regarding Callum’s father. This is where the film slows down to a horrible crawl, the scenes are too long, and very dialogue heavy.
The supporting cast is supremely talented, Cotillard as the head scientist at Abstergo. Jeremy Irons as the chief of the foundation, and Micheal K Williams as one of the fellow assassins held captive. But they don’t really add anything, none of the characters are charismatic, nor do you really care about them. If anything, the film should have been set in the 15th century, with occasional cuts to present day. Of course you require some back story, but it shouldn’t be taking precedence over the action in such a film! The final act of the movie takes place in modern London, where an epic Assassin showdown would have been more climatic and fitting.
The violence was also toned down, with rarely any bloodshed, the games are targeted towards mature fans, but it’s obvious to see that the film was toned down for a more lucrative 12A rating. Considering the nature of the fights, the scenes are rather tame. You can’t help but feel that the rating was one of the key reasons why the action scenes are so infrequent and lacking any real brutality.
Overall, the film isn’t in the same league of Street Fighter or Doom, in regards to disappointing video game adaptations. It’s still an adequate movie, but with the cast on hand, and a compelling source material, it’s a shame they couldn’t produce a film to rival the games. In this regards, definitely needed less talk, more action!