In 2016, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is on death row. When he wakes up after lethal injection, he finds himself at an Abstergo Foundation facility, a modern day front for the Templar Order. Sofia (Marion Cotillard), an Abstergo scientist, informs Cal his death was faked because they need his help to find a mysterious artifact known as the Apple of Eden. In order to locate the artifact, Cal must enter the animus, a device used to explore genetic memories, to relive the memories of his ancestor, Aguilar, during the Spanish Inquisition in 1492.
I am a big fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. I have all of the games (although I have yet to play them all) and have read several of the comic books. At the Toronto Comic-con last year, I picked up an art piece depicting several of the series’ the main characters. Since it is one of my favorite game series, I was really excited to hear that a movie for the series would be made. Better yet, it wasn’t going to be a film adaptation of one game but instead tell a new story that takes place within the already established universe. I think my excitement got the better of me.
I’ll start with some good. In the game, navigating the environment by running through the streets and up and on top of buildings is a signature aspect of the game play. Things like parkouring up walls and running across rooftops was brought over exactly like you see in the games. Even things as simple as stances and body posture when assassins jump onto unsuspecting targets is spot on from the game. And the type of action sequences in general is what you would expect to see in the games. That is exciting to see when a video game film has the look and feel of the source material.
In the group of people I saw this with, I was the only one who had played the games. Actually, I was the only one who knew anything more beyond the fact the film was adapted from a video game. Talking with them after leaving the theater, they seemed to have a good grasp about the Assassin’s Creed universe. Assassin’s Creed did a good job of explaining the larger universe in which the film is set, from the conflict between Assassins and Templars, to the purpose of the animus, even the bleeding effect of prolonged animus use. I’d say the only thing not well explained is exactly what the Apple of Eden is and what it can actually do.
Now this leads into my first gripe with the film. Although it did a great job establishing the movie’s universe, it had to take the time to set it up. There was so much exposition in the first half of the movie, it didn’t feel like it went anywhere. Several action scenes were sprinkled throughout to add a bit of flare but it didn’t help too much. By the time the film got to the meat of the story, it had to play catch-up. As a result, the second half felt rushed. I never got the opportunity to get sucked into the story because it was all over the place.
A problem I often have with movies is sometimes they try to set up future sequels without properly closing its own story first. I understand laying threads to be picked up in the next film but that shouldn’t come at the cost of the current story. When this film ended, I found myself thinking, “Oh, that’s the end?” Saying the story was left open-ended feels like the wrong term but it does feel incomplete. I think the rushed pacing during the second half that I mentioned before forced the script into a quick ending, resulting in an anticlimactic finish to the film.
I thought Assassin’s Creed was OK :-|. Hollywood hasn’t had a great track record with video game adaptations. This had the chance to break that trend since it wasn’t trying to adapt any one game but instead tell its own story within the game’s universe. Even with a star-studded cast, poor pacing and an unengaging story keeps this film reaching the heights I was hoping for from a film based on one of my favorite gaming franchises.
Cast & Crew
Justin Kurzel – Director
Michael Lesslie – Screenplay
Adam Cooper – Screenplay
Bill Collage – Screenplay
Jed Kurzel – Composer
Michael Fassbender – Callum Lynch / Aguilar
Marion Cotillard – Sofia Rikkin
Jeremy Irons – Alan Rikkin
Denis Menochet – McGowen
Ariane Labed – Maria
Brendan Gleeson – Joseph Lynch
Essie Davis – Mary Lynch
Charlotte Rampling – Ellen Kaye
Michael Kenneth Williams – Moussa
Matias Varela – Emir
Callum Turner – Nathan
Crystal Clarke – Samia
Michelle H. Lin – Lin
Brian Gleeson – Young Joseph Lynch
Hi. Good review! I also watched it like two weeks ago. I also think it was an OK movie. Never player the games but knew what it was all about. I thought two things were great: Fassbender and the action scenes. But then we have to story/plot. Oh well, my “test” of that goes like this: If I leave the cinema and cannot tell the plot to a friend like two days later, that probably was not the most innovative storyline. Well it was entertaining, but probably won’t be remembered 3 years from now.
Hey. Thanks! Fassbender, as well as the rest of the great cast, did what they could and they were great in their roles. Unfortunately, the script wasn’t there to help them. That’s a good test. I struggled coming up the a synopsis that covered all the points but wasn’t too long. It was hard.
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When are we going to get a great video game movie? I’m a big fan of the games too, although Black Flag was the last in the series that I’ve played. I’m so glad they nailed the action sequences! I’m still looking forward to this, despite the lukewarm reviews 🙂
Aww yes! I didn’t know you played the games, Allie. I am loving what I am learning about your gaming habits. 😀 Since you are a fan of the series, definitely check it out. Just don’t set your expectations too high.
I came very, very close to getting a tattoo of the Assassin’s Creed symbol! Fingers crossed I’ll see the movie on Wednesday, I had to skip it last week in case I infected the cinema with my cold! 😀
That would have been so cool! Haha It’s probably a good idea you didn’t go and get everyone sick. I’m anxious to hear what you thought about it once you do see it.
Great review of a great movie! There are several critiques of the Assassin’s Creed franchise movie,because it is a video game adaptation. However we should keep in mind that Assassin’s Creed Movie is not an adaptation of a previous game or story. You can check my post about the movie and game references in my blog if you have the curiosity. Cheers
Thanks. Sounds like you enjoyed this more than I did. Since this movie was not a direct adaptation but a story set within the Assassin’s Creed universe, I had high hopes for it because it didn’t have to follow a specific story line. However, I didn’t feel like it lived up to its potential. Thanks for sharing the link. I’ll have a look!
Thank you for commenting. 🙂
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