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Review: Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed
12.20.2016
5 10

PLOT: A death row inmate (Michael Fassbender) is given a reprieve by a mysterious corporation that wants to tap into memories from his past life as a 15th Century Spanish assassin, all in the hopes of finding the “apple of Eden”, which they believe will effectively end violence in mankind.

REVIEW: Video game movies are supposed to be fun, right? Because if so, clearly director Justin Kurzel didn’t get the memo while making ASSASSIN’S CREED, the dreariest, most pretentious video game adaptation ever. While not an embarrassment on the level of something like MAX PAYNE, as Kurzel brings a certain polish and style to the production with the visuals and BBC-ready cast, it’s puzzling anyone thought this essentially goofy premise was worthy of almost prestige-level treatment.

michael fassbender assassin's creed

If it had been made as a period piece, with Fassbender’s Spanish assassin Aguilar as the hero, the movie may well have worked as a kind of heightened period epic – like 300 meets KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Instead, the premise is shackled to a modern-day story where Fassbender’s American hero, Callum Lynch, is made to enter a device called “The Animus”, which allows him to relieve Aguilar’s adventures. Basically, he spends most of the movie playing himself in a videogame he can’t control, making the whole film feel like you’re watching a friend playing one of the Assassin’s Creed videogames, without ever getting a turn for yourself. This is a trap many other videogame adaptations have fallen prey to – notably DOOM.

With the high-end cast, and Kurzel’s well-earned reputation of his MACBETH adaptation, you’d assume this would be a unique adaptation, but the only thing that’s different about it is that it’s utterly humorless and free of even a second of levity. Fassbender goes all-in as Callum-Aguilar, but it feels like a self-indulgent performance, as if to justify his involvement he had to be as stiff and serious as possible, lest anyone think he’d ever do something light. An amazing actor (in the right role), Fassbender is not an ideal action hero despite his physique and good looks. He lacks the twinkle in his eye a good action hero needs, and even a tiny bit of levity would have made the film go down a whole lot easier.

michael fassbender assassin's creed

Still, no one fares especially well here, with Jeremy Irons getting nothing to do but scowl as the doctor in-charge of “The Animus”, while him and his daughter, played by Marion Cotillard (in a similarly thankless role) hide the fact that they’re obviously up to no good. Michael K. Williams briefly injects some life into the film, but even his line delivery seems unnatural at times, such as when he asks Cotilard if she’d “let us free.”

ASSASSIN’S CREED only works during the Spanish Inquisition-set action scenes with Aguilar, with Kurzel giving them a certain sense of chaos, even if that makes them hard to discern at times (there’s an awful lot of swinging, jumping and diving). The best thing is the period production design and the thundering score by Jed Kurzel, which is better than the movie deserves (someone like Ridley Scott would be wise to snap him up for their next period epic). Fassbender is far better as Aguilar than he is as Callum, and his sidekick, played by Ariane Labed, has an interesting presence.

These sequences would almost be enough to keep the movie from going-down as a fail were it not for the terrible third act, which ends the proceedings on confusing note and lacks any kind of climax, save for a very brief battle. It’s trying to set up a sequel that seems unlikely, unless fans turn out in droves over the holidays. Kurzel and Fassbender will both go on to make many more good movies, but neither is a good fit for a piece of escapism, and the film ranks among the year’s biggest disappointments. It could have been pretty good were it not all taken so seriously.

Source: JoBlo.com

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