This was supposed to be it. With its beloved property and all star cast Assassin’s Creed was supposed to be the video game movie that bucked the trend and was an unreserved hit. But like an untrained cook they took all those great ingredients and made a big, nasty, ugly, unpalatable mess. This thing is so bad it makes Warcraft look like Lord of the Rings.
This review doubles as a Public Service Announcement warning you dear viewers not to waste your time, money or energy on this abomination. Here’s your perfunctory SPOILER ALERT (though there is not a whole lot to “spoil” if you catch my meaning) as we take this film apart in four stabs:
#1 We need a hero
The film tells the tale of a troubled man named Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) who is taken by a mysterious organization and placed in a machine to experience the the memories of his ancestor, a late 15th century assassin named Aguilar de Nerha (also Fassbender). Now I am a fan of Fassbender and I enjoyed him as young Magneto in the X-Men franchise and in films like 300 and Inglourious Basterds. But as talented as he is he can do nothing with either of these characters to make the audience the slightest bit invested.
We know very little about Callum other than his father killed his mother to save her from the machine and he (Callum) was in jail for killing a pimp. That’s pretty much about it. His motivation is supposed to be to kill his father and avenge his mother but it does not feel believable. And Callum is not charming, amusing or interesting in the least. There is one scene when he started singing loudly where I wanted to punch him in the face. Aguilar looks cool but you know so little about him and he says so little that you don’t care about him either. And if you don’t care about your protagonist (or protagonists) then you don’t care about what happens to him or what he does and that is the case with this film.
#2 Paper thin characters
Remember that all star cast I mentioned earlier? Well that includes Marion Cotillard (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), veteran actor Jeremy Irons and Michael K. Williams from acclaimed TV series “The Wire”. To tell you the truth I thought it was an actress that resembled Cotillard and not Cotillard herself. Her scientist character was just so dull and lifeless I swore it was some other actress. Irons is the big bad scientist but he is not menacing or intriguing. Maybe if he had hammed it up a bit we could have had some unintentional humour. #opportunitymissed. And Williams barely had anything to say or do and could have easily been replaced by another actor or a cardboard cut out for that matter. The characters in the past timeline are just flashes and spend most of their time running, jumping and fighting so you don’t give a flip about them either.
#3 Uninspiring action
At this point you may be thinking “well the characters are crap but at least the action is cool right? Right?” Wrong. They could not even get that right. Firstly the PG-13 means you get little to no blood which kind of sucks in a movie about assassins. But even with that limitation the action is just borderline generic.
The stunts, the fights and the escape scenes feel like they were copied from other, better movies. And the absolute worst part is they keep jumping from the fight in the past to the present where we see Callum performing the same actions as Aguilar. Now if they did this once or twice to establish what was happening that would be fine. But they do it over and over and over and over again, completely taking you out of the experience and ruining their already mediocre action sequences. There was one scene where Aguilar dives off a building and before we see how he survives they jump back to the present. But how did he survive? Who knows and who cares. At that point I certainly did not.
#4 Convoluted, crappy plot
I have never played any of the games the movie is based on but I know the premise is of a man traveling back into the memory of his assassin ancestor. Sounds relatively simple right? But no, the guys behind this film had to make the story overly complicated and with more holes than a grater.
You see the villains want to find the Apple of Eden (yes that apple) because it ostensibly can stop men from being violent but can also destroy the assassin brotherhood. How can it do either of these things? Your guess is as good as mine because the film never explains it. Why does the organization keep the other patients around when Callum is the only one they need? The answer must be to have a big escape scene at the end. Lazy much? The climax of the film is also a giant yawnfest despite featuring the only true assasination in the entire blinking movie.
Overall the dull characters, weak action and insultingly stupid plot made what could have a fun popcorn movie into a mind numbingly boring experience that was a pain to watch. And instead of finally redeeming video game movies we continue the sad trend that began with Super Mario Bros.
Rating: It’s game over for Assassin’s Creed (an obvious pun but I could not resist) with 1.5/4 highly censored kills.
For more video game movie mayhem you can check out part one of my tournament fighting game movie countdown here. And for more movie reviews and my video series MovieVille you can like the Facebook page here.