Assassin’s Creed Review

“Assassin’s Creed” is the newest video game to film adaptation, based on the number one hit action title.  Like the game, the film follows the adventures of a hero, or anti-hero who enters the animus, a digital computer tech program that causes the participant to experience the past of his or her ancestors.  The film follows death row inmate Callum Lynch, as he explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar during the Spanish Inquisition, with the hopes of finding and protecting a sacred artifact called the Apple of Eden.  Directed by Justin Kurzel, the film stars Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling.

I was a big fan of the “Assassin’s Creed” game franchise.  They have been wonderfully entertaining action adventure stories with rich cinematic history with all the different eras of the game.  And when I saw last year’s “Macbeth” with both Fassbender and Cotillard by the same director of this film, needless to say I was ecstatic about this team up.  I thought to myself, “With Macbeth being such a great film, how can they screw this movie up?”  Well, let me tell you they did and they did big time.  This was probably my biggest disappointment this year.  This film is bad on almost every single level and I really feel betrayed by the filmmakers for taking such a rich story and literally butchering the best parts of what made the game so great.

So in the game, most of the story takes place inside the animus, a simulated computer program that let’s you explore different time periods.  This truly is the heart and soul of the game.  And in the film, they spend probably 15 to 20 minutes actually in the Spanish Inquisition.  Most of the movie, primarily an hour and forty takes place in the real world or in the facility called Abstergo.  I can’t tell you how unexciting the real world stuff was.  I was completely bored out of my mind.  If the story was compelling then it wouldn’t matter but the story was so generic, bland and rambling that I just found myself drifting away into la la land for most of the film.  The acting was atrocious.  Fassbender does all that he can do but he literally is left with nothing; no good dialogue, no real development and no purpose.  He’s kind of a despicable character who never becomes relatable and if your lead isn’t relatable then it’s hard to connect with the audience.  Marion Cotillard felt almost zombie-like.  She had almost no expression, no emotion whatsoever and I feel like she basically had nothing to work with.

This leads to me the biggest problem with the movie.  I know the game and the lore so I know a lot about the history of the artifacts and the centuries old war between the Templars and the Assassins.  But for a lay person who doesn’t know the game or the history, will be totally lost and confused.  The story didn’t make a lot of sense and it definitely was not executed well.  The movie’s biggest fault lies in the bad script and no great actors or director can redeem a horribly written film no matter how hard they try.  The writing was excruciating and the end sequence was one of the most anti-climactic endings that I ever can remember seeing in a movie.  They leave it wide open for a sequel but after seeing how bad this movie was there’s not a chance in hell we will see another one of these and it’s a real shame because this had the story and the creative team behind it to make something really special.  Video Game movies are not good and they are having a really hard time translating them into good movies.  I think one day they will crack the code, but it isn’t now.

If I have anything good to say about the movie it’s the flashback sequences with Michael Fassbender’s ancestor Aguilar.  The fight scenes and the entire Spanish Inquisition time period was really well done and those scenes literally made me feel like I was immersed in the game.  They were phenomenal to watch and the action was exciting.  Unfortunately we spend very little time here and in the end they wasted a huge opportunity by not staying in the past for most of the film.  I’m not sure why they decided to do that, but my gut feels like it was a money issue.  I think the studio didn’t have enough financial backing to spend the entire movie in the past so they did very little with it.  But if that was the case, then why make the movie at all?  If you are going to half-ass it then don’t even try.  They half-assed this film and it really shows.

The critics have been slamming this film, calling it one of the worst of the year.  I didn’t want to believe them but unfortunately they were right.  This isn’t the worst film this year, but it comes pretty close.  “Assassin’s Creed” has only a couple moments of glory and excitement while the rest is not only boring but a depressing slog.  I cannot recommend people see this.  It’s tiresome, with a lazy script and and a mind-numbing story that will put you to sleep.  “Assassin’s Creed” is a waste of a film and a hugely missed opportunity and truly my biggest disappointment this year.  It cringes me to say it, but “Warcraft” was better than this and I hated “Warcraft.”

Grade:  D- 

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