The Assassin’s Creed franchise is one of the most recognisable franchises in modern gaming culture. The games are a blend of intelligent story-telling; accurate period settings with inaccurate period characters and of course awesome action and set pieces. The big screen adaptation is another poor chapter for the franchise that misses the mark and has continued the sad trend of video game movies being a disaster.
Hopes were set high to a franchise that has sent us to the Holy Wars, The Italian Renaissance, The American and French Civil Wars, The Golden Age of Piracy, Victorian London and will soon be sending as far back as Ancient Egypt in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Empire. This film takes us to the Spanish Inquisition, a bloody and intolerant stain on Spanish history. Although the film also cuts from this period to modern times just like the games. The link is caused by Callum Lynch, played by Michael Fassbender, who uses a machine to relive his ancestor’s past during this time period in order to acquire an artefact. The premise seems borderline realistic and sounds like the plot of a video game and on paper sounds like a decent Science-Fiction, adventure movie. However, 20th Century Fox have squandered brilliant source material in this absolute turd.
This is yet another piece of cinematography that simply does not know what it is. The film starts with a title crawl to inform audiences who aren’t familiar with the franchise of the very basics. This I didn’t mind. In fact I not only expected to see this in the movie, I wanted to see it to really broaden a franchise I have a real passion for. This film cuts from 1492 Spain to 1980’s Texas then to 2016 Texas then to 2016 Madrid then to and from the past to the present day. It was mind-boggling and the worst thing the director opted to do was during action scenes, it would cut back to modern-day to see certain character reactions to the events. It made the movie an incoherent mess. I did noticed this occurred during usually violent sections, so to keep the movie’s rating a 12. This broke my heart as the AC games are notoriously violent. The whole premise of the game is you run around stabbing bad guys. It was violent don’t get me wrong but it wasn’t what I wanted to see and that to me was deeply saddening.
The Director’s choice to make an artsy, action packed movie about a group of vigilantes who stab people was a bold one, but one that ultimately fails embarrassingly.
Consumers enjoy this series for the historical settings. To run around Rome with Leonardo Da Vinci’s experimental weapons or helping turn the tide of the American Civil war excites players and by setting the game in some of history’s most notable moments where most of the gaming industry daren’t go entices them to come back for more with each instalment. The Modern setting is one of the most infuriating segments of the whole franchise. The storyline has become so disjointed between both the historical and the modern that it’s unbelievable. I myself remember finishing Assassin’s Creed II and becoming confused with its explanation of the Apples and their purposes to the modern-day plot. Can’t we just have historical settings throughout without the Science Fiction elements? No, apparently not. And they had to shoe-horn it into this film as well, making the Apple of Eden the ultimate McGuffin in movie history. The references to the games like Abstergo, The Animus and the Apple fell flat because how poor the movie was. For example, in the games, the Animus was just a bed or chair with a visor or screen and that’s it. But because the crux of this movie was centred around the modern-day setting, it had to be more exciting and fancy. A fancy chair would be too corny to mainstream audiences. So what did they do? Some giant arm thing that flipped the protagonist around and looked like one of those crappy virtual reality simulators. It was so bad it really takes you out of the movie.
The plot was so god damn confusing. The characters were underdeveloped and bland. The Script was awful and the cinematography was too artsy for its own good. Some of the visuals were stunning like the long, unedited shot of the fighting as the camera swoops over it all to show our heroes atop a mountain overlooking their next objective. At least some of the visuals were impressive but at times the CGI was appalling the city of Madrid in 1492 looked laughably fake. The Director’s choice to make an artsy, action packed movie about a group of vigilantes who stab people was a bold one, but one that ultimately fails embarrassingly. At times, this movie often felt like Fan-Fiction. Probably even more so than Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Jeremy Irons and his on-screen daughter Sophia Rikken, played by Marion Cotillard, clearly did not enjoy being a part of this film. Their performances were awful although the lacklustre script might have something to do with that. Irons was killed off at the end in true Assassin’s Creed style, probably as he was too expensive for the planned sequels to this film. But it seems we will be getting more of these as for some reason Sophia vows to avenge her father, even though he was a selfish egotist who didn’t show an ounce of affection towards her. The film ended with the Assassins stood atop a building in London looking menacingly. No mention of the doomsday event like in the games. No mention of where they were going to next or where the franchise can go from here. It was just a semi-cool looking shot that was needed to end the film. If the Apple is in the hands of the Assassin’s then there is no need to go back into the past again is there? There are more than one apples in this universe but this isn’t mentioned at all in the movie!
When making a video game movie you have to do it properly. To make a Mass Effect game, you don’t make the game about Commander Sheppard. You make the game about another character in the same universe but using similar if not the same elements to that universe and then maybe reference events from the games. This is one of the only saving graces to a film that otherwise has continued the downward spiral of one of gaming’s giants of the past. Poor mobile games nobody asked for, buggy yearly releases that all feel the same and now a flop of a motion picture that I hope never resurfaces its hooded face ever again.