Assassin’s Creed, the big screen adaptation of the hit video franchise reunites Michael Fassbender with his Macbeth co-star Marion Cotillard and director Justin Kurzel, in a bid to crack the video game to movie curse.
The film is set in the same universe as the games but features an original story that expands the series’ mythology, and takes place during the Spanish Inquisition. The film centres on Callum Lynch, played by the brooding Fassbender, a murderer criminal who is introduced as he’s about to be executed by the state. The chemicals pumped into his body don’t kill him though and he wakes up in a super-science research facility run by Abstergo, a shady company secretly run by the Knights Templar.
The Templars need Callum because he’s the last descendant of Aguilar, a 15th-century member of the Assassin’s cult. As part of their war with the Templars, Aguilar and his hood-wearing friends fight to acquire a powerful artefact called the Apple of Eden, which possesses the power to eliminate free will. So far so complicated. Sticking with American movie traditions, uber posh Jeremy Irons appears as the head baddie, Rikkin, who wants to use the apple to eradicate violence amongst humanity.
The beautiful Marion Cotillard who, like Fassbender, is in serious danger of over-exposure appears as Rikkin’s scientist daughter Sophia who is charged with connecting Callum to the upgraded Animus (careful with your pronunciation here), an invention that uses subjects’ DNA to experience their ancestors’ lives.
Unfortunately for the makers, Assassin’s Creed isn’t the movie that’s going to break the streak of bad cinema adaptations based on video games for several reasons.
The characters would have benefited from being properly fleshed out. All we know about Fassbender’s murderer background is that he killed a pimp, and he’s angry at his father. Meanwhile, Cotillard’s Sophia, who runs the futuristic clinic where Fassbender, keeps being sent back into his forebear Aguilar’s body, also has a tense relationship with her father and forges something of a bond with Callum.
The Assassin’s Creed series is famous for its mix of tense, stylish combat, acrobatic parkour movement and period-piece recreations of real world, famous places. However, the movie version spends too little time in the past and the fight scenes set in the present don’t have the same high octane escapism as the ones in 15th-century Spain. When it does focus on the ancient locations, it’s inventively choreographed and delivers some awe-inducing feats and action.
Also it lacks a much needed sense of humour, and Fassbender’s charm is hidden way too deeply in his hooded robes. While it’s not a complete disaster it remains to be seen if film bosses will be queuing up to make a sequel.
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