This film is the Anakin Skywalker of video game movies. It was supposed to be the Chosen One, the film that would finally make video game movies good and bring balance to the cinematic universe, but instead it turns out to be a bland origin story that betrays the very people that put their hope and trust into it.
Assassin’s Creed is the adaption of the popular video game series and stars Michael Fassbender (who also produces) as a career criminal who, against his will, must relive the memories of his ancestor to help a shady organization retrieve an ancient artifact. Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons and Michael K. Williams also star as Justin Kurzel directs.
I am a huge fanboy of the Assassin’s Creed games, mainly because I am such a history buff. I have looked forward to this film ever since it was announced in October 2011, but between then and now the film was delayed a half dozen times and rewritten just as often (both usually red flags). But hey, Fassbender said they were delaying it to ensure they “got it right” and Ubisoft, the company that produces the game, even started their own film production company specifically to have “unprecedented control” over the project. So surely this can’t be anything short of awesome, right? Well turns out not only is Assassin’s Creed” not the savior we hoped it was, it is the worst video game movie of 2016 (and 2016 had Warcraft).
This is the type of film where nothing seems to happen. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot going on, but none of it is interesting or investing. A majority of the film takes place in modern day, inside the shiny walls of the “prison” where Fassbender is being kept, which is the film’s first (and most pondering) flaw. Assassin’s Creed is beloved because it allows players (or in this case, would be viewers) to relive periods of time that aren’t always explored in media, and the Spanish Inquisition here is no different. People pay to see action sequences in 1492 Spain, not a charismatic-less Michael Fassbender mope around and have boring modern conversations with fellow inmates.
Which is another problem, no one in this film is interesting, mysterious or a fleshed out character. We don’t know much anything about Fassbender’s Callum Lynch, and even less about his ancient Assassin ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha. Other characters have one scene of yelling at Lynch and are never even given a name, so when the climax occurs we don’t know who they are, much less why we should care about them. I don’t know what else we should expect from Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, the writers of the horribly boring “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” but character motivations hilariously flip on a dime for no reason, and the ending of the film sets up a sequel that will in all likelihood never happen.
The film has fleeting moments of joy and excitement, which obviously all take place in the flashback sequences, but they’re then ruined by the scenes going on for too long, being shot too close up and being edited too choppily (gotta get that PG-13 rating, God forbid a Mature-rated video game gets an R). Some scenes look cool, with sweeping shots of the 15th century skyline or smoke flooding through the streets, but it is just a visually dark film that is all-too-often ugly to look at.
Most every small joy in Assassin’s Creed came from inside references to the game series or little nuggets of historical intrigue, so people who don’t care about either of those things will truly find nothing of appeal here. There is a scene in the film where Jeremy Irons’ bad guy character says, “it is time we purge the world of the Assassin’s Creed” and I could not agree more; in a world where the year 2016 gave us awful cinema and troublesome real-life events, there is no room for films as boring and pointless as Assassin’s Creed.