Videogame-based movies have a reputation of being awful. Typically, when such a movie is announced, the majority of the game’s fans become extremely weary. As a fan of the Assassin’s Creed games myself (well… the first three or so), I was holding my breath as well. But hey, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard were both in it. Both are reputable actors that usually choose reputable roles. Perhaps, just perhaps we would get to see a gaming movie that didn’t suck.
Unfortunately we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that.
Assassin’s Creed the movie is an excruciatingly condescending film that seems to be so afraid of confusing people that it practically spells out our characters’ motives and backstories without any semblance of subtlety or authenticity.
At the very beginning of the movie, they explain the history of the assassins to you through words scrolling up on a black screen. This is the laziest form of storytelling because all the information they gave you could have been relayed through events in the movie, but of course they either considered their audience too stupid, or they found their writing capabilities too lacking.
They then get to Michael Fassbender’s character after wasting time with unnecessary scenes involving his childhood (again, scenes that relayed context that could have easily been placed into other parts of the movie).
Now the characters Michael Fassbender plays, both the current man and the past assassin, are not characters from the actual games, but they do sort of a copy-paste of Desmond and his past assassin Altair. Desmond becomes Callum, and Altair becomes Aguilar.
The reason I say this is because their plots are similar: Desmond/Callum gets captured by the evil Abstergo industries so that they can place him inside the Animus, a machine that has him relive the memories of his dead ancestor, and that dead ancestor happens to be an assassin named Altair/Aguilar, the last known person to hold a magical item called the Apple of Eden.
Now this change of names may anger some AC fans right off the bat, but this kind of thing does not upset me as long as what they do with these new characters is interesting and exciting.
This movie fails to do that. Instead, we get Callum, a relatively blank slate character who is occasionally pissed off at the assassins because of his dead mother, until he magically isn’t anymore because reasons. And then Aguilar is basically some uninteresting dude that steps in every once in a while to give us some action and parkour.
To Fassbender’s credit, he does have some scenes in this movie where he portrays some fantastic emotion. In fact, I don’t think it’s his fault at all that his character doesn’t work. There’s not much that an actor can do with a crap script and crap direction.
Marion Cotillard also never really does anything interesting either, but again I did not get the feeling that it was her fault either. The movie and script are simply awful.
And then we get a bunch of other prisoners that roam free around the Abstergo corporation. All of these prisoners were part of the assassins, but now they’re forced to walk around Abstergo, unshackled and occasionally unsupervised. Why? Who knows, but take a guess and figure out if that comes to bite Abstergo on the butt later on.
None of these assassin side-characters are very interesting or developed, and the only times they interact with Callum, they do so in stupid riddles and vague-speak.
In fact, a lot of the dialogue between many of the characters is vague-speak. I caught myself constantly wondering why certain characters weren’t being more direct with each other. Usually, the only answer I could find was that the movie was trying to be artistic and mysterious. But when you become artistic at the expense of logic and reason, typically your movie just comes across as dumb.
By the way, make sure that you remember that when it comes to these assassins, whether they live or not doesn’t matter, and their creed is everything to them.
But just in case you forget either of these two things, they’ll remind you in almost every single freaking scene that they appear in.
Aguilar is hardly characterized outside of the fact that he’s the protagonist and that he assassins real good. In fact, Aguilar is barely in the movie enough to even be characterized. And that’s because the real focus of the movie is on Callum, not Aguilar. But every single Assassin’s Creed game focuses on the development and story of the assassin, not the guy in the Animus reliving the assassin’s past. And surprise surprise, the narratives in the video games are much more enthralling and memorable.
You may say that it’s also because video games can be longer than two hours. And you’re right, but this movie wastes so much time screwing around anyway. If they prioritized their time with crap that actually mattered, then the movie would have been much more interesting.
That being said, this movie was just towing the line of mediocre for the first two thirds of the movie… it’s not until the last part of the film where it completely obliterates itself with absolute gibberish. Everything in the last twenty minutes was absolutely mind-numbingly cretinous. I don’t remember dropping my jaw at a movie’s tomfoolery this much since Batman V. Superman. The last twenty minutes absolutely obliterates the entire narrative and does some of the most stupid and pointless things in the entire world. Nothing about it makes sense, almost everything about it was convenient and underdeveloped, and quite a bit of it was really really dumb.
Aside from some neat action and a few inspired moments from Michael Fassbender, this movie is an absolute waste of time and energy. Every time the movie had a choice between style and substance, it monopolously chose style. None of the characters develop well, and none of the movie was particularly smart or competent. Perhaps when they finally come out with that Last of Us movie they keep trying to write, we may have a good videogame based film, but based on what history has given us, we may never get a good videogame based film ever.