Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Written by: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling
Video games have the capability to tell incredible stories and give the user an experience that no film or TV show could ever provide. That unique experience comes from being able to control the characters involved. How often during horror movies do we plead for the protagonist to not walk towards the dark closet and wish we could stop them? Video games require an incredible amount of hours for gameplay and thus becomes the issue when translating it to feature film. Many thought Assassin’s Creed would be the one to break the curse, but they would be dreadfully wrong.
Cal (Michael Fassbender) wakes up after thinking that he received the death penalty and sees that he’s in a lab. He’s informed by Sofia (Marion Cotillard) that he no longer exists and that they need him to use their machinery that allows him to access the abilities and mind of his ancestor during the Spanish Inquisition. From there, they request that he retrieves the Apple of Eden for their use.
Oh Assassin’s Creed, what you could have been. Having played some of the games that inspired this film, it had incredible potential to translate to the big screen. It includes traveling back to so many distinct parts of history that would be ripe for sequels. The film came in with Michael Fassbender as its lead, who always shines. It had everything going for it, but they needed the first one to land and instead, they created a truly terrible film that sunk any real possibility for any franchise to grow.
The problems that have ailed video game films typically come from not capturing the dense storylines that they carry. That was always going to be the case because the games this film pulls from has plenty of history and story within them, but Assassin’s Creed simply failed because it cared far too much about exposition rather than showing what everyone wanted to see, which was Michael Fassbender as Cal fighting in historical locales. Instead, the audience received lectures about how all of the machinery works and the evil plans that just do not matter. It certainly also does not help that the dialogue of the film feels so bland. To have actors like Fassbender and Cotillard deliver such stale pieces of dialogue really hurt to watch and I had to look away in moments.
It comes down to the writers getting too caught up in lore to actually tell a fully realized story in order to set up a franchise. All of it felt like mind-numbing knowledge that I’m sure would be relevant in the originally planned second and third film. I almost scoffed when the credits rolled with the obvious set up for the next movie as if there would be one after watching everything that preceded that scene.
None of this film worked, from the writing to the main draw of the assassins actually doing some assassinations. The world built felt so artificial and drab, which made the sequences meant to be exhilarating to simply be boring. Those scenes could also not build momentum because it had to switch back to Cal to learn more about this grand conspiracy that once again, nobody cared about. It all barrels through for a conclusion that feels as convoluted as the machinery they use.
Assassin’s Creed disappoints so much because of the potential that was lost through poor filmmaking. It could have changed the game for video game movies and started a franchise that would take audiences to all sorts of historic times added with great action sequences. This film had none of that, which resulted in such a shoddy feature. Fassbender and Cotillard deserve much better. I would say the same for Jeremy Irons but he seems to be attaching his name to any project willing to write out a check. The search will go on for the first game-changing video game film and even with all of the promise, Assassin’s Creed certainly did not step up.