ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
The “Assassin’s Creed” video game series has some of the worst writing out there. This is not to say that video games usually have Fitzgerald-tier writing, but even in a medium where the bar is that low, “Assassin’s Creed” stands out. So, of course the cinematic adaptation is going to have a plot that’s absolute nonsense.
Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) watches his mother get murdered by his father in a flashback to his childhood. He then becomes a violent criminal, and eventually gets the death penalty for his misdeeds. Then he wakes up in a facility ran by the Abstergo corporation, who want to have him to travel through the Animus back through time to his ancestor, Aguilar, who is an assassin late 1400’s Spain, to find the cure to violence.
If it all sounds convoluted, there’s no need to worry; even the few novelties of “Assassin’s Creed” bear little or no relevance to the plot. Unfortunately, those novelties are things the viewer strains for, as “Assassin’s Creed” is built around the concept of what could have been.
The action scenes, for example, show great promise. There are chases on rooftops and high-profile assassinations, and the set-ups are creative. The problem with these action scenes though, is that despite Justin Kurzel’s competent direction, they’re cut too quickly. This is possibly because the studios wanted to cut it down to a PG-13 by cutting away from scenes that might show blood, gore, or some other variety.
Who does this please? Most anyone who cares about this series is going to be the most interested in these flashbacks and if they can’t get properly immersed in the action scenes then the interest is going to evaporate. It’s just absolutely unfortunate that studios are butting in with some of these movies to cut them down to the rating they want, making them worse.
The acting ranges from ok to flat. Michael Fassbender does a lot to elevate the material as Cal, but there’s only so much he can do due to the other elements dragging the movie down that by the time the film is over his performance is out of gas. It’s shocking how many overqualified talents are in this movie. Jeremy Irons shows up as one of the heads of Abstergo, with Marion Cotillard as his daughter both playing parts that should be played by actors like Stephen Dorff and Tara Reid. Charlotte Rampling and Brendan Gleason both also show up. Sure, the amount of screen time both have implies that they probably just showed up on set for a day as a favor to Kurzel, collected a paycheck and left, but still, an ensemble like this should be used better.
“Assassin’s Creed” cannot even really be called truly awful. The film is more like an oddity, a trivia question one might pick up while playing a board game. It is filled with limitless potential and expands on absolutely none of it. One cannot wonder if it is not completely counterproductive altogether to try and adapt video games into films.