Movie Review: “Assassin's Creed”
Callum Lynch (Michae Fassbender) is a man who has lead a difficult life. When he was a boy, his mother was killed by his father (an assassin), and his life was never quite the same after that. Callum has gotten into his fair share of trouble and, when he faces the death penalty, he is discovered by a company called Abstergo which has developed new, innovative technology that allows people to relive the memories of their ancestors. It is cutting edge technology, but the company that created it is looking for very specific people.
Throughout history, there has been a war between a secret group of assassin’s and a secret organization known as Templars. The war has gone on for centuries, and Callum learns that he is the only living descendant of an assassin named Aguilar. Aguilar was the last known person to have come in contact with an ancient artifact known as the Apple of Eden. The Apple of Eden is an incredibly powerful artifact, that Abstergo claims to want to use in order to end violence. Callum is their best chance of finding the artifact, but the more he learns about the organization and the artifact, the more he doubts their intentions. Callum is the key to finding the artifact, but is he on the right side of this war?
The Pros & Cons
The Animus (-4pts)
Assassin's Creed (+4pts)
New Story (+4pts)
Plot Points (-5pts)
Pro: Action (+6pts)
The action in this movie was nothing short of great. The only reason I did not give it more points was because there just was not enough of it. The action we did get was fantastic. With great cinematic sequences that featured nods to the game, and the fighting style that the game introduced, this movie put a ton of effort into making sure that everyone was satisfied with the action in this movie. There was hidden blade combat, long ranged weapon combat, assassin parkour, Eagle Point dives and a lot more. I really enjoyed the action in this movie, and my only complaint with it was that I wanted more of it.
Con: The Animus (-4pts)
I was very confused as to what was going through the mind of whoever decided to make The Animus a giant claw machine. It screams "studio executive meddling" and was probably the dumbest part of this movie. It was the first example of the obvious fact that the filmmakers had very little understanding of the concept for this movie. In the video game, The Animus was a simple medical bed. Believe me, I am not one that thinks the movie had to be exactly like the game, but if the filmmakers wanted to take liberties, they should have taken ones that made sense.
The design of The Animus in the game was simple. The creators of the game understood that, as soon as the modern day character entered The Animus, the focus needed to be on the ancestor's storyline. The movie failed to understand this concept. During action sequences, the movie regularly cuts back and forth between assassin action and Michael Fassbender jumping around while hooked up to a giant claw machine. It was distracting, and unnecessary.
Pro: Assassin's Creed (+4pts)
This was one element of the movie that the filmmakers got right. The Assassin's Creed is a brotherhood of sorts. Every assassin is completely loyal and completely devoted to the cause. They are ready to die on a moments notice, if it means protecting The Apple of Eden and defeating the Templars.
This movie conveyed this brotherhood well, and showed how important the Assassin’s Creed is. That being said and similarly to the action, like my issue with the film’s action, I would have like to have seen a lot more of this. It seemed like the filmmakers did not want to dive into this aspect of the story. What we saw of the Assassin’s Creed was really cool, but it was not given anywhere near the focus that it deserved.
Con: Timeline (-6pts)
This was easily my biggest problem with the movie, and the ultimately proved to me that the studio had no idea what movie they were making. The filmmakers spent way too much time showing the present day storyline. On the surface, I see the issue. There were two storylines in different timelines and the movie simply could not be as long as the game, so lone of the timelines needed to get primary focus. However, the movie is called Assassin's Creed. The first of the two words in the title should have been a significant indicator to which timeline should have gotten the most focus.
The majority of the movie’s runtime was spent following the modern day storyline, and it felt like we only saw the assassins when the filmmakers wanted to throw some action in there. It made the assassins fee underdeveloped and uninteresting (and that is coming from someone who was a big fan of the games). For a movie titled Assassin's Creed, I needed to see more of the assassins. I wanted to learn more about Aguilar and his relationship with his fellow assassins. Even the Templars were underdeveloped in that timeline, which made it hard to get invested in that feud. Was the modern day storyline bad? I do not think so, but the filmmakers definitely struggled in deciding what story to tell, so both suffered.
Pro: New Story (+4pts)
I liked that the movie did not use Altair or Ezio (the two most notable assassins from the games). This provided a fresh story to everyone, regardless of whether or not they played the game. The filmmakers went into uncharted territory with a new story that still incorporated elements from the game, which fans will enjoy, but will not alienate viewers who have not played a single video game. Unfortunately, the filmmakers tell us very little about Aguilar.
The real story was the present day storyline that followed Callum Lynch. Again, I liked that the filmmakers decided to tell a new story rather than adapt Desmond’s character into a movie. Callum was a modern day character, but had his own issues that definitely separated him from Desmond. We learned plenty about Callunch Lynch and I liked the character quite a bit. I just wish the film had a better balance that let us learn more about Aguilar as well.
Con: Plot Points (-5pts)
The next big issue with the movie was that there were significant plot points that should have been big reveal moments, but were instead just thrown out their as if they meant nothing. Things like: the modern day Templars, the fate of Callum Lynch's father, and Callum Lynch's synchronization with Aguilar. These should have been big moments in the movie and, if given proper focus, could have made a big impact with the audience. This is another example of the lack of understanding that the filmmakers had with this project.
These could potentially have been big, impactful moments in this movie. Most were moments that have already captivated the gaming community. The studio just had to adapt them into the movie but, unfortunately, the studio dropped the ball on these things. They dropped the ball because it felt like they were just going through the motions. It seemed like the filmmakers just wanted to push this movie out, as fast as possible, to capitalize on the success of the games. As a result, the lack of focus that these moments got made the film feel like it was rushed and it certainly was not the best that the studio could have done with his project.
Grade: C- (74pts)
This movie had massive potential. I have played the games, and have been captivated by both the storytelling and the world building. Unfortunately, the filmmakers failed to translate that into the movie. They failed to develop the Assassin's involvement in the Spanish Inquisition, they failed to properly depict the rivalry between Templars and Assassins, they failed to develop what could have been a very cool new Assassin in Aguilar, and that is just me getting started. Is this a terrible movie? No, do not listen to those reviews blindly.
There are some great action sequences in this movie and has delivered a new Assassin's Creed story by featuring a new modern day protagonist named Callum Lynch along with a new assassin named Aguilar. This movie is not bad but it is far from great. It missed the mark on most of its potential and, for that, the studio should be very disappointed. The Assassin's Creed property had the potential to make billions of dollars in the movie industry, but this movie did not get that ball rolling. I really hope the studio finds the money to make a sequel, in which it can fix its mistakes. If you were interested in this movie then go check it out, as I think you will enjoy it to an extent, but be aware that it fell very far short of its potential.