A death row prisoner is captured by a mysterious organization and
plugged into a machine that lets him relive the memories of his ancestor.
Assassin's Creed (2016)
Directed by Justin Kurzel
Written by Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Michael Kenneth Williams, Charlotte Rampling,
Brendan Gleeson, Ariane Labed, Denis Ménoche
Based on the video game from Ubisoft Entertainment
I wanted so badly to like this film. Ever since I was burned by the Ratchet & Clank movie, I had a yearning need for the long-awaited Assassin's Creed movie to finally break the video game movie curse. Alas, it did not. While Assassin's Creed is considerably better than pretty much any video game movie that has come before it, it's still a pretty huge misfire that squanders its massive franchise-building potential. Most of what's wrong is unavoidable though. Some things simply can't translate from game screen to movie screen, including centuries of backstory. What should've been easily avoidable is a pacing problem and a serious lack of motivation. Remarkably, I just watched the film and I'm having problems remembering what it was about.
This film has a cast comprised of two Oscar winners and two nominees, yet somehow falters at the finish line. Fresh off a solid Macbeth interpretation, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard (not to mention director Justin Kurzel) do a decent job with what they have to work with. The biggest disappointments come from the many unanswered questions, such as "Who are the many other Assassins trapped alongside Callum Lynch (Fassbender)?" and "What exactly is the Apple of Eden?" See, the second question is easily answerable to those of us who've played Assassin's Creed II, but the filmmakers need to remember that not everybody has. This film is only coherent to fans of the game franchise, and while a certain amount of fan service is to be expected, it shouldn't dominate the narrative and exclude casual film fans. Hell, I'm a longtime AC fan and I was pretty confused and disappointed. I can't even imagine what regular folks thought.
Assassin's Creed has some cool fight scenes, some impressive stuntwork, and a surprisingly neat production design. However, you can tell that nobody involved in the principle production knows what story they're trying to tell. It's this constant confusion that leaves so many things out, like the bitterness between the Assassins and the Templars, and the true purpose and power of the Pieces of Eden. What we're left is a lukewarm reminder of what could've been the most incredible video game movie ever made and opened the floodgates for so much more. Speaking as a fan, this is one of the most unfortunate misfires I've ever sat through.