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Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Stabbings and video games.

Assassin’s Creed is exactly the type of movie you would expect from the team who had previously made a gritty version of Macbeth. It’s very serious, it looks gorgeous, and there are lots, and lots, and lots of shots of people staring and doing serious acting. It’s a film that’s so serious that a lot of it takes place in darkened rooms where you can barely see what’s going on – don’t go and see it in 3D, where the glasses would make it even darker.

The film begins with a childhood flashback for lead character Calum Lynch, played by Michael Fassbender, before we meet him the present day, where he’s executed for committing murder. Of course he’s not really killed,  and he wakes up in the Abstergo complex. That, sadly, is about all we learn about Calum, and we learn even less about his alter ego, Aguilar, which leaves the movie with a strange imbalance where we know a lot more about the bad guys that the good.

Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons get to do the majority of the speaking and handily become the most fleshed out characters, but Fassbender’s Aguilar barely utters a word during the film. French actor Denis Ménochet also gets a lot of screen time, even though he’s just Sofia’s bodyguard, to the point of getting what appears to be a loaded, heartfelt speech that telegraphs a plot twist that confusingly never occurs.

Similar to last year’s Warcraft movie, knowing the video games helped a lot, as many story elements are lifted directly from the games with very little explanation. It left my movie-going companions bewildered, describing the film as “a bit of a mess” afterwards.

However, I have to say I absolutely loved it. This is not wise cracking Ezio style romp, or a swaggering Edward Kennedy story, but director Justin Kurzel and producer Fassbender have wisely decided to tackle the movie as a drama as opposed to a CGI punch fest. By dialling back the humour (Fassbender makes one, acid-laced joke in the whole movie) and treating the subject with a more revered tone, they have managed to avoid many of the cheesy traps other videogame movies have fallen in too. The insistence for realism may be taken a little too far for some – all of Aguilar scenes are in Spanish with subtitles – which does jar a little when the movie throws in a big CGI scene, but the majority of the tone is just right.

As revealed before release, it spends the majority of its time in the present day, with just three long fight sequences set in the past. You may think that with so little time spent in the past, the movie has missed what made the franchise so great, but that’s not so. Each visit to Spain is a huge fight sequence (with very little assassination, perhaps in a nod to the later games), and the second of these is like an Assassin’s Creed greatest hits.

Execution poses are thrown, walls are run, there’s an excellent aerial shot of some assassins leaping from beam to beam, and I may have made a little cheer when I spotted a crate hanging from some ropes for no reason, just like they do in the games. The iconic eagle features heavily and yes, there’s even a sequence where we follow it flying around a tower with the city spinning below, just like it does in the game when you unlock a bit of the map.

As the movie works towards its climax, it does lose focus. There is a scene with Calum standing in a wrecked Animus that really confused everyone else I saw the movie with, but again, I actually felt it was a lovely Easter egg for fans of the games. Additionally, the last ten minutes of the film really did not need to exist and are there just to set up the sequel.

The MacGuffin, the Apple of Eden, is the most pointless and annoying thing in the film. We are told the Templars need it in order to rule the world, that it will stop all violence, but we are not told how and it just glows a bit when we eventually see it. Unlike the game where your path to your goal is played out over fifteen or so plot points, Calum can simply jump to the last memory sequence to find the Apple, which makes you wonder why he bothered entering the previous memories.

Previous adaptions of video games have gone for campy fun, with Prince of Persia and the recent Warcraft movie as example, but only Resident Evil has so far managed to turn that into regular box office success. Assassin’s Creed takes a different path, using the base mythology from the game but interpreting it in a different, much darker way. As far as we know, our nominal hero is a cold blooded murder, rather than Nolan North, the friendly bartender from the games. Cotillard is steely as Sofia, and there is support from acting heavyweights Charlotte Rampling and Brendan Gleeson, a cast that many movies would kill for.

It might be messy for those who don’t know the games, but if you do and the idea of Assassin’s Creed done by the team who made Macbeth appeals to you, then you’re going to enjoy the film. If you wanted slapstick stabbings and computer game shenanigans, then look elsewhere. Oh, and that robotic new Animus? That should definitely show up in the next game.

  1. Crazy_Del
    Since: Jul 2009

    Sweet! Will try and find a date that will show the movie with Subtitles. Big fan of the Assassins Creed Franchise and will see this soon. Also thanks to da_buckethead (Harm) as he told me it was brilliant and that I would enjoy it knowing the franchise well.
    Great write up Tuffcub and Thank you for taking the time to write this after seeing the film (saw your tweet) :)

    Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 15:42.
  2. parryman
    Since: Apr 2012

    I saw this yesterday, I thought it was one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.
    Each to their own though.

    Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 15:46.
    • JR.
      Since: Apr 2013

      Even worse than The Force Awakens? I don’t believe you.

      Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 16:26.
      • parryman
        Since: Apr 2012

        Worse than Independence Day Regurgitated.

        Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 18:06.
  3. JR.
    Since: Apr 2013

    It looks like a cross between the Prince of Persia movie and the Matrix. Two movies I like.

    It’s just a shame Fassbender is in it. I don’t know why but he really bugs me. Like Ewan McGregor.

    Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 16:32.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008

      Its not like any of those.

      Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 17:20.
      • JR.
        Since: Apr 2013

        I’m thinking:

        5% The Matrix
        10% Prince of Persia
        30% Bourne Ultimatum
        15% Inception
        20% Sharknado
        10% Brokeback Mountain

        Now that’s a movie I’d pay to see. Two cowboy great whites enter the Matrix within a Matrix to find some magic sand but they can’t remember who they are or what they are doing so they just do each other.

        Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 20:08.
      • JR.
        Since: Apr 2013

        Oops… somebody can’t add up worth a damn!

        10% Hunger Games

        …and it turns out they’ve been in some kind of arena all along when Lara Everlean shoots them dead with an arrow and becomes the winner the 185th Hunger Games.

        Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 20:15.
  4. Harm Rehal
    Since: Sep 2009

    TC – I couldn’t describe it any better, well done!

    I watched the film yesterday and loved every minute of it. The action scenes were brilliantly done and really got the adrenaline going. In some scenes I felt like I had a controller in my hands pressing the X button as the film really does pull you in. The film was never going to equal the game which has to be accepted – period. What you do have is a script perfectly written for Assassins Creed fans, most gamers and fast paced action film enthusiasts.

    Go watch it!

    Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 16:45.
  5. JustTaylorNow
    Since: Oct 2011

    Terrible film, absolutely terrible but not street fighter terrible (Van Damme one)

    Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 17:31.
    • The Lone Steven
      Never heard of him.
      Since: May 2010

      So it’s not the so bad it’s kinda worth a watch terrible? Shame as Street Fighter is worth one watch just because of how awful, cheesy and tacky it is. That and contains one of my favourite quotes. “The day M.Bison graced your town with his presence was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday.”

      Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 18:35.
  6. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    Unsurprisingly, it’s average at best, bad at worst. :-/ COME ON! They had it gift wrapped for them! Cut down on the length of a plot from one of the games, focus on the past and there’s your movie. Instead, it’s modern day centric, which is usually regarded as the worst parts of the games.

    Didn’t Warcraft make the same mistake as being reliant on gamers seeing it? Sounds like they did the same thing here and doesn’t really work.

    Should have stuck with the CGI route. AC:Embers is regarded as a decent film and it ties up Ezio’s story.

    We’re going to get an influx of video game films aren’t we? *cries*

    Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 18:44.
  7. ron_mcphatty
    Since: Sep 2008

    I didn’t even try to persuade my wife to see this (or Star Wars) with me today, but she did fancy Passengers and we enjoyed that a lot. Ah Jennifer, aaaah. And Chris actually, better in this than Jurassic Product-Placementfest, not as good as Emmet Is Awesome though. I’d quite like to see this, but it’ll have to wait til it’s out on video.

    Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 22:16.
    • Tony Cawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      Out on video?



      Comment posted on 03/01/2017 at 23:08.
      • The Lone Steven
        Never heard of him.
        Since: May 2010

        Ubisoft think it would be ICONIC to release it on VHS. Darn youn’uns and their Blurays! When I was their age, we didn’t have these fancy rewind options. You had manually rewind the tape and use coal to power the tape master 8000! Unlike these fancy dvds and blurays, when they started to die, you could still watch it.Ah, the fuzzy ol’ days….

        Comment posted on 04/01/2017 at 12:26.
  8. geofduke
    Since: Dec 2011

    I was taken to see this for “free”. I have since realised that it was not “free”. It cost time (obviously) but it also cost me a little piece of my dignity; it was also an insult to my senses.

    20% alright + 30% (definitely) not alright + 15% bewilderment + 30% total nonsense + 5% complete and utter shite = 100% not worth your time unless for some reason you simply cannot stop yourself from seeing it. Like if you get caught up in a complex child/lover kidnapping scenario where you must watch it or they die. Even then though you’d probably be best not to watch it and call Liam Neeson instead.

    Comment posted on 06/01/2017 at 18:07.

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