Assassins creed is a pretty straightforward franchise. Its about historical conflicts, and cool dudes that run around taking out major targets whilst doing awesome parkour. I’m not a huge fan of the games (I’ve only ever played IV) but as someone who is into history, I was pretty stoked for this movie. On top of that, Assassins Creed is also a reunion For Justin Kurzel, Michael Fassbender, and Marion Cotillard; who all worked on the most recent version of Macbeth, which I absolutely loved. My expectations for this movie were high. So high, in fact, that I disregarded the overwhelming onslaught of hate that came in the wake of the movie’s early screenings. Boy, was I wrong.
Justin Kurzel is a great director. He has a gift in his manipulation of fog, dust, and light. He did great things in Macbeth, especially with the final confrontation, and he does similarly great things here…at least when the screenplay permits it. The setting that I had most looked forward to; fifteenth century Spain, at the height of the inquisition, barely gets 30 minutes of screen time, if that. The ferocious beauty that Kurzel’s visual style brings to the table is never given time to become the prepossessing masterpiece I know it could have become. The epic acrobatics, tense sequences of martial arts combat, and exotic weaponry scarcely sink in before the viewers, just like Callum Lynch, are jerked back to a monotone and boring laboratory, that serves as the setting for most of the movie.
At one point in the film, when the villainous Templar priest finally lays his oppressive hands on the apple of Eden, the movie’s sought after artifact, Aguilar, and his Assassin partner leap down into a cloud of grey smoke, emerging from the shadows here, and there, laying absolute waste to the Templar. This is a moment of cinematic triumph, and Kurzel ought to be pleased. Next however, as Aguilar seizes the priest, he looks across the room, and sees his partner just as she is murdered by a Templar enforcer. An epic duel ensues. Climactic combat is Fassbender’s forte. The man shows his emotions so well with his facial expressions. This woman is his wife, presumably, or his lover perhaps. However, I have no idea who she is; heck, i don’t even know what her name is. The movies plot prevents you from being emotionally invested in the most adrenaline pumping part of the story, because the script focuses on what has to be the most positively tedious plot device in Assassins Creed.
This movie was Ubisoft’s chance to disconnect the Assassins Creed franchise from the half-baked convoluted sci-fi plot devices that are part and parcel of the games. Instead, the film chooses to be a movie that is almost solely, a half baked-convoluted plot device, with a dash of fantastic stunt work on the side.
I am usually pretty optimistic after a movie. It takes very little to please me. My rating scale tends to peak at “perfect”, and reach its low at “just good”. I’m sad to say that I wanted Assassin’s Creed to end. Once I realized that there were no more animus sequences coming my way, I had no reason to care anymore. This was not, sitting on the edge of my seat, or wishing the film would hurry up and get to the climax. I legitimately wanted the movie to be over, so the credits would roll, and I could get up and leave.
Assassin’s Creed is a tragedy. So much talent was involved, and clearly, plenty of hard work went into it. A few times, Kurzel’s pictorial virtuosity is allowed to shine through the weary and trite plot, but for the most part, it is suppressed by how vapid and incomplete everything else is. It is a pity. Assassins Creed was chock full of potential, but it couldn’t have fallen more short.