What Happened Here?
Assassin's Creed (2016): When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.
Ahhhhhhhhhh video game movies. They’ll never change, even though they continue to be absolute dumpster fires. Most are directed and written by people who aren’t super familiar with the source material, or worse people who think simply playing one of the games in the series for a few hours is enough to give them an understanding of what’s going on. It also doesn’t help that the publishers don’t care enough about these franchises beyond the big paycheck to have any creative influence on the story. And, unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed is no different. This movie could have been good. I know I wanted it to be. But it, like many of the games, suffers from the classic Assassin’s Creed problem: it spends way too much time wasting away in an entirely uninteresting present-day storyline.
Look. I get that they had to create a storyline in the present. I’m not faulting it for that. But easily the biggest problem with this film is that it spends too much time in the present with uninteresting characters. Michael Fassbender plays the movie’s equivalent of the early game's Desmond-he’s abducted by the Templars and taken to Abstergo to unlock the memories of his ancestors in the Animus to help the Templars find the Apple of Eden-but pretty much everything surrounding Fassbender is….boring. Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons as well as Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, and Michael Kenneth Williams, all hugely talented actors and actresses, are in it for the paycheck as they play poorly written and forced characters. Like….why is Charlotte Rampling even in this? She has a long and distinguished resume dating back to 1964 and she has basically 3 speaking lines. She probably received a fat paycheck for her 3 lines, all of which could’ve easily been delivered by Jeremy Irons, so why did they spend money getting Charlotte Rampling instead of doing something worthwhile like improving the script? Or the action sequences? Don’t even get me started on those.
Oh you got me started on the action sequences. These sequences are so polarizing. On the one hand, there are some gorgeous sequences that made the Assassin’s Creed fan in me jump for joy. Some of the sequences are well choreographed and executed, all while using weapons Creed fans will know and love. But others? Others are impossible to see. There is this weird and totally unnecessary haze that settles over about half the movie for some reason, and this haze makes things really difficult to see. Not to mention some poorly shot sequences. The cinematography here? Not great. I must also pick on some of the deceptive advertising that takes place in this movie. In basically every trailer, we see shots of this epic battle sequence during the Spanish Inquisition. It made me think oh man! The Assassins are going to have to eliminate a general or something in the middle of a giant battle or something! But nope! Instead, we are given a tease of the giant battle sequence in the form of the quick flyover we saw in all the trailers and then we are whisked away to a totally different part of the city that’s quiet and peaceful. Because clearly the money in this film went to bringing in famous actors for 3 lines versus actually paying for action sequences. Oh, you know where else the money could’ve gone? The 3D conversion. Holy CRAP was the 3D bad. I wasn’t given a choice in what format to see so I went to see it in 3D, but man do I wish I had seen it in 2D. It was clearly post-production fake 3D and my Lord was it bad. Sorry, but whoever did the conversion needs to be fired. Some points, especially early on, were just flat-out unwatchable. TERRIBLE. If you do go see this film, do yourself a huge favor and see it in 2D.
I haven’t spent much time talking about the good parts of this film, but there are a few. The Spanish Inquisition storyline is kind of interesting, and the crew did a good job of giving us just enough to know what was going on with the Assassins to care and then showing the action sequences you’d want to see in an Assassin’s Creed movie. Additionally, once we get to the conclusion of, well, Desmond’s storyline it’s kind of interesting. Only problem is it takes way too long to get to that conclusion and we spend way too much of the buildup time in the modern storyline instead of the Spanish Inquisition storyline. At the end of the day, I think it’s safe to say this film will just be thrown into the pile that is video game movies. And while there’s probably enough here to keep diehard Assassin’s Creed fans entertained, there’s definitely not enough to keep anyone else’s attention. If you aren’t a diehard fan, avoid like the plague.
The Critique: Yet another lackluster video game film, Assassin’s Creed falls flat on its face thanks to some poorly shot action sequences, poorly written characters, and an uninteresting present day storyline. It basically falls flat on its face because of everything, to be honest.
The Recommendation: Only diehard Assassin’s Creed fans will find enough to like here to justify the cost of a movie ticket, but to everyone else…..AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE.
The Verdict: 2/10 Garbage
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