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Dan's Review: "Assassin's Creed" is a big, hot mess

Dec 21, 2016 03:40PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Michael Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed - © 2016 - 20th Century Fox.

Assassin’s Creed (20th Century Fox)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, thematic elements and brief strong language.

Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Kenneth Williams, Denis Ménochet, Ariane Labed, Khalid Abdalla, Essie Davis, Matias Varela, Callum Turner, Carlos Bardem, Javier Gutiérrez, Hovik Keuchkerian.

Written by Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, based on the Assassin's Creed video games by Ubisoft.

Directed by Justin Kurzel.

GRADE: C+

REVIEW:

Movies based on video games usually don’t turn out so well. The biggest hurdle is usually the problem of translating a truly interactive experience into a film narrative. In other words, the appeal of video games is the concept of controlling the outcome. Some games even let you decide multiple outcomes (choosing to be a villain or a hero being the most common). Rarely has a video game ever been wildly successful. The lone exception might be the Resident Evil series, which seems to make just enough money to keep the movie franchise alive, despite never topping any box office metric. Assassin’s Creed, a new film based on the wildly successful video game of the same name hits theaters this holiday weekend. Could it buck the trend of “video game movie “flops?

Michael Fassbender plays Callum Lynch, a career criminal rescued from execution by the Madrid-based  Abstergo Corporation, led by Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) and his daughter Sophia (Marion Cottillard), who heads the “Animus” technology project. The Animus is a time travel device that enables descendants to live the experiences of their long dead ancestors. Callum is a direct descendant of Aguilar de Nerha an assassin who lived during the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th Century.  Other descendants (natural killers as well) are also brought to the Abstergo lab for testing the in the animus. As Callum transports back in time, he learns the traits of the assassins, a group sworn to combat the evil Templars, a religious/militaristic cabal intent on gaining power through domination. The Templars seek to obliterate the assassins and obtain Eve’s apple, which will give them the power to eliminate free choice from all mankind. As Callum spends more time with the assassins, he becomes sympathetic to their cause. He also discovers that Rikkin’s corporation is a contemporary extension of the Templars, and that they are using him to get the apple for their own modern day domination over free will. Callum and the other assassin descendants must band together to stop Rikkin and the Templars from achieving their goals.

Assassin’s Creed is a confusing and disjointed film, navigating through a lot of themes and plot holes, embedded in an all-out fight movie. For gamers, this kind of narrative may be frustrating, since the action (ironically) leaves them with no choice regarding the outcome. Fassbender gives a performance the covers all the action and brooding killer personality you’d expect from a movie about an assassin, but nothing more than we’ve already seen from him in the X-Men franchise. There is some intense action and decent fight choreography in the movie, but not enough to run out and pay a full price admission.

These flaws doom Assassin’s Creed to the scrap heap of other flops based on video games, like Prince of Persia, Super Mario Brothers, Need for Speed, Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, etc., etc., etc…).

Do yourself a favor and keep on gaming. 


Assassin's Creed Trailer

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