Assassin’s Creed is Hollywood’s latest attempt to convert a video game product into a big screen success. After failing with the likes of World of Warcraft, Super Mario Bros., and Resident Evil, Assassin’s Creed has been touted as the best chance to succeed where so many others have failed.
Unfortunately, despite being arguably the finest video game film ever made up to this point, and a step in the right direction for video game based movies, the convoluted plot, stitched together editing, and uninspired action sequences prevent Assassin’s Creed from being anything more than average.
The film tells the story of Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) as he seeks to find the whereabouts of the Apple of Eden in 15th century Spain through reliving the memories of Aguilar, his assassin ancestor.
When it comes to what the film gets right, the acting is solid which should not come as a surprise considering the talent involved, with Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Irons all turning in good performances. Fassbender, in particular, does not disappoint in the lead role.
From a visual standpoint, Assassin’s Creed is impressive and easy on the eye. The fight sequences, while devoid of any kind of stake and lacking the violence present in the games, is flashy enough to be qualified as fun.
What all of this means is that, while not as good as fans (this writer included) would have liked, Assassin’s Creed is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction for video games. Unfortunately, there are problems that need to addressed if any sequel is to be made.
The editing leaves a lot to be desired. Throughout the film, Fassbender’s character, Callum Lynch, is transported into 15th century Spain and engages in adventures as his assassin ancestor. Unfortunately, while the action set pieces promise much, choppy editing and jumpcuts, as well as the decision to interchange Aguilar’s experiences with Lynch’s simultaneous experiences takes the audience out of the action.
On top of this, an inconsistent plot, and convoluted script leaves the viewer with much more questions than answers. Character motivations, back stories, and plot lines remain unresolved by the time the screen fades to black.
Some of this can be put down to the consequences of sequel baiting. However, such is the underwhelming nature of the film’s climax that it leaves the viewer with more frustration than a sense of mysterious longing.
Despite looking flashy and well-choreographed, the film’s action sequences lack any sort of stake as well as the violence that the games are celebrated for. The decision to explain the eventual fate of the main character quite early on the film reduces any genuine sense of jeopardy, and prevents the action sequences from building any real suspense as his fate is predetermined.
Speaking of a lack of danger, the MacGuffin for this film, the Apple of Eden, is quite possibly one of the worst plot devices this writer has ever seen. It’s described as the genetic coding of violence/disobedience and it is going to be used by the big bads in order to eliminate disobedience in humans.
Not only does it serve a rather conceited function in the plot but the outlandish premise of such an object is left unexplained for the duration of the film. So much so that when Jeremy Irons’ character holds it up in the air at the film’s climax and it begins to open up and glow some CGI rubbish, any tension surrounding the object is non-existent as its purpose has not been explicitly outlined to the audience. It’s importance simply derives from the fact that it is heavy-handedly made to appear so without the film justifying or fully explaining its function.
As for the lack of violence, the film suffers from its 12A rating and would have considerably benefited from an R-rating so as to explore the violence inherent to the franchise that is notably absent from the film.
Assassin’s Creed is a hastily edited, tame, and incoherently written film in and of itself. However, as a video game movie, it represents a notable improvement in quality when compared to what has come before, thanks to its talented cast and attractive visuals. It is also the only video game film that leaves this writer genuinely curious about a sequel, especially if it goes in the direction that it appears to be going. After all, if Resident Evil can get what feels like 1,000 sequels, Assassin’s Creed warrants at least one.
Assassin’s Creed is in cinemas from January 1.