Assassins Creed does resemble a video game in it’s structure. Like most video games, it is a weak, shallow narrative used to hinge impressive set-pieces and action sequences upon. Unfortunately, what works well for a video game doesn’t work well for a movie.
That shouldn’t have been the issue with Assassins Creed. There is a very cinematic story within the source material, mixing history, intrigue, an ancient war and a good dose of modern sci-fi. The mistake the movie makes is that it alters the balance of the video game and shifts it too much towards the modern and forgets the whole appeal of the concept: the history.
It is a shame because when the central character, Cal, played by a cruising Michael Fassbender, links with the past and becomes the Assassin of the title, the film comes alive. The sequences in old Spain, which includes a daring escape from execution, a very well-choreographed chariot chase and a building-top pursuit which could have been lifted directly from the game itself, are all extremely impressive and thrilling.
These sequences are few and far between and strangely, the film decides to focus much more the modern day and the reasons behind the “regression” and going into the past. This is particularly bold because these sections are dull. It is all about some macguffin which will end the world if in the wrong hands but rather than show the impact, the film decides it would rather talk endlessly about it.
This could be because it has such an impressive cast and the movie doesn’t want to waste them. Fassbender is put to good use but hardly stretches his acting abilities. His fighting and choreographed fights are effective and impressive. Marion Cotillard plays the mysterious lady “helping” Fassbender while Jeremy Irons is a villain spending most of his time lurking in the shadows. One of the biggest crimes is a wasted Brendan Gleeson in one of the more confusing plot elements.
This is the final nail in the Assassin’s Creed coffin. The plot tries to hard to be clever when it could have been a much more fun, focused and straight-forward action movie. Shallow-psychology and a random plot about genetic aggression don’t add anything to a movie already too focused on it’s narrative and not enough on the cool parts that filled the trailer and made the game the movie is based on so successful in the first place.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed will be filed under another video game failure but it feels like this could have been avoided. Too much focus on the present, a wasted cast and worst of all, not enough time spent with the actual assassins of the title means that rather than an exciting action movie, we get a dull attempt at dramatic thriller.
Rating – 2.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)