Assassin’s Creed Review

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For the longest time, Hollywood has been trying to figure out how to successfully adapt video games into film. It’s an untapped resource but Hollywood has yet to come up with an adaptation that was both critically and commercially successful. In 2012, Ubisoft decided to take matters into their own hands by developing their own video game adaptations. With Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, and Justin Kurzel onboard for Assassin’s Creed many theorized that Creed would be the first film to break the dreaded video game movie curse. Does Assassin’s Creed successfully break the curse or does the film continue the curse?

Unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed continues the curse with its messy adaptation. Although the past scenes perfectly capture the atmosphere of the video games, its eclectic cast is reduced to playing boring and uninteresting characters.

Assassin’s Creed follows Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) as he’s involuntarily brought into a centuries-long war between the Assassins and the Knights Templar. Through a revolutionary process spearheaded by Sophia (Marion Cotillard) and Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons), Lynch experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar.

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With Assassin’s Creed, there were a lot of positive things going for it. It should’ve been the one to break the video game movie curse. However, the decision to focus more on the present instead of the past proved to be the film’s biggest weakness. The scenes in the past are much more interesting than the present-day scenes even though these scenes take up the most screen time. It’s what I like to call the “Thor effect”.

Much like Ubisoft’s games, director Justin Kurzel perfectly captures the wonder and grandeur of 15th-century Spain. The sets look lived in and characters all look appropriate for the time. Not to mention that the action choreography is some of the best I’ve seen in a while. The movement is fluid and the technical level of the fight scenes are remarkable. Unfortunately, the present-day scenes take priority over the past scenes. The splendor that Kurzel showcased in 15th-century Spain, he doesn’t bring to the present as the world in Abstergo is cold, dull, and tedious. It also doesn’t help that the dialogue and characters written by Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, and Bill Collage are bland as well.

In addition, the film’s storyline leaves much to be desired because the film feels like a reimagining and retelling of the first Assassin’s Creed game. That familiarity would’ve been good in any other medium, but a story that is supposed to be told through several hours is condensed down into an hour and 48-minute runtime. This left the film with an uneven pacing situation that cannot be avoided. Another problem with the story lies with the writers’ decision to make the Creed look like the villains, yet they don’t do enough to make them look like heroes either.

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If there’s been one constant from a majority of these video game adaptations is that there’s been a lack of interesting characters in these films. It’s well-known that video games have the luxury of developing characters through several hours of gameplay, but Assassin’s Creed doesn’t get that luxury. A charismatic actor like Michael Fassbender could’ve easily created a charming character similar to Ezio or Edward Kenway, but Aguilar is devoid of any personality here. In fact, seemingly every character in Assassin’s Creed is devoid of a personality. At the end of it all, you just don’t care about these characters. It’s definitely disappointing to see considering how eclectic this cast is.

Fassbender is still effective in his portrayal of Callum Lynch and Aguilar, though. He just has that natural gravitas to elevate any dreary dialogue to a higher level, this film included. The always reliable Jeremy Irons is fine as Alan Rikkin albeit in a small role. Unfortunately, Marion Cotillard is the weak link in the film with her monotonous performance as Sophia Rikkin. Cotillard seems like she’s just going through the motions throughout the entire film.

Overall, Assassin’s Creed isn’t the savior of video game adaptations that everyone is crowning it to be. Yet Creed is a small step in the right direction as Fassbender, Kurzel, and company have taken the source material seriously. There’s nothing campy about this adaptation at all. However, there are still plenty of problems to be found with Assassin’s Creed. Should these problems be rectified in a possible sequel then we may finally have a good video game adaptation. However, we still have to wait much longer for that film to arrive.

Rating: 3/5 atoms
NR 3 Atoms - C

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1444 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.