CINEMA RELEASE: ASSASSIN’S CREED
Director: Justin Kurzel
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Brendan Gleeson
Classification: M (Violence and Coarse Language)
Review by Peter Gray
Walking out of ‘Assassin’s Creed’ I couldn’t help but notice that I was clearly in the minority of those that enjoyed themselves. Now, by no means is this film great and the level of talent involved should probably result in something far more high calibre, but for what it was ‘Assassin’s Creed’ entertained me on a basic level. Perhaps not being overly familiar with the video game origins of the series assisted in my amusement of what was put forth before me, or maybe it was that I found the fun in a film that wants to take itself so seriously…either way, this proved far from the disaster that I was expecting.
Though the vast storyline of the video game series is foreign to me, I know just how intricate and outlandish it becomes so it’s a testament to the film that the penned screenplay from Michael Lesslie (‘Macbeth’), Adam Cooper (‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’) and Bill Collage (‘Allegiant’) is as simple as it is whilst maintaining the essence of what makes the games so appealing. The first half of ‘Assassin’s Creed’ feels like the stronger section as it sets up its appealing premise with the occasional outburst of a well-choreographed action sequence before it adopts a more balls-to-the-wall mentality in its latter half where any common sense the film inexplicably believes it has left it discarded for successive set-pieces.
The story itself focuses on death row inmate Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) who is a given a reprieve of sorts from the mysterious organisation Abstergo Industries, a modern-day incarnation of the Templar Order. Abstergo’s head scientist, Dr. Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard), reveals to Lynch that he is a descendant of Aguilar de Nerha, a member of a secret order of assassins who for centuries have opposed the Templar Order, and, in a bid to discover the whereabouts of the Apple of Eden (an object they believe will eradicate violence in mankind), he is conscripted to the Animus Project, a claw-like machine encompassing the technology that allows Lynch to revive Aguilar’s memories so Abstergo can learn the whereabouts of the Apple of Eden. Yes, I realise I mentioned earlier at how simple the film seemed, and that plot description is a decent amount to process, but the nonsensical makes perfect sense when it’s played out in front of you, and given how much ‘Assassin’s Creed’ has to work with, things initially appear rather coherent.
Aguilar being a 15th century figure during the Spanish Inquisition allows the film to push and pull between two distinct time frames, which in turn benefits director Justin Kurzel who bathes the film with a somewhat smokey haze during the earlier time frames and a cold, more sterile pallet for the scenes involving Lynch and his imprisonment at Abstergo. Given how invested I was unexpectedly finding myself, it came as a real shame however that the film started to drop the ball in its finale build-up where the story became seriously muddled, vague on certain characters and their motivation, and offered a “climax” that was clearly the product of studio interference as it felt like there was 20-or-so more minutes that were needed in clarifying what exactly has taken place.
Given that the track-record for cinematic adaptions of video game titles is hardly one stacked with impressive results (‘Streetfighter’, ‘DOA: Dead or Alive’, ‘Max Payne’ to name but an embarrassing few) it isn’t the most glowing praise to say ‘Assassin’s Creed’ is one of the better products. Perhaps if it wasn’t based on the game line with such a devoted fanbase built in, Kurzel’s actioner would be deemed more ambitious than overwrought.
My rating: 2.5/5