You know those times when you do something, instantly regret it and then bemoan the fact that you’ve just wasted two hours of your life? Yeah, that was me after watching the Assassin’s Creed movie. I was not a fan.
It’s become the norm to laugh and say “it’ll be rubbish” whenever a new game adaptation is on the horizon, but I like to keep an open mind. And with Assassin’s Creed there is definite talent in front and behind the camera. Michael Fassbender is a fine actor and directed by Justin Kurzel who was just coming off the critical success of Macbeth also starring Fassbender. It had a recipe for success, and the first trailer (despite the awful Kanye song choice) looked decent enough. It’s amazing that this turned out to be so boring. It’s not bad per se, I’d almost prefer that because at least then it would give me some emotional reaction to it. What we have here is a meaningless void of nothingness.
Managing to transfer what could be around a thirty hour game into a two hour experience was always going to be tricky, especially when you have two different time periods to balance. And the balance itself is a little off with probably three quarters of the movie set in present day Abstergo with only a small portion being set in 15th century Spain.
With an all new cast of characters it does allow the film to tell its own story instead of relying on following the path of the games (although this is said to exist in the same universe). That said, the story still revolves around using Fassbender’s character Callum Lynch to relive the memories of his ancestor and find the Apple of Eden, the MacGuffin at the centre of both the game and film. So really it’s the same story but played from a different perspective.
Fassbender despite proving to be an incredible actor just seems bored throughout, barely gathering the energy to put in a performance, making his recent appearance in X-Men Apocalypse look almost Oscar worthy in comparison. Nobody else comes across any better. Marion Cotillard tries her best with the weak material, but she also looks like she can’t be bothered. And Jeremy Irons is just there as a standard villainous caricature.
So is there anything good about this movie? Kind of. The set design is really nice and despite the plot during the 15th century sections being wafer thin, it’s a lot more enjoyable to watch than the stuff in the present. So in that sense it’s at least a faithful adaptation of the games! Also, kudos for being brave and filming all these sections in their native language instead of having everyone speak English for Hollywood reasons. Makes a nice change from the usual blockbuster fare.
For me though the only thing worse than a bad movie is a boring one. There are a lot of bad video game adaptations, for instance Street Fighter is a bad movie, but it’s an entertainingly bad movie. It’s a movie I’d happily watch if only to laugh at it, Assassin’s Creed is not one of those movies. It’s a painfully boring one, much like Batman V Superman I found myself looking at my watch wondering if time was going backwards.
To quote Roger Ebert in his review of The Spirit – “To call the characters cardboard would be an insult to a useful packaging material”. A sentence that can also be applied to Assassin’s Creed. Don’t watch this movie. Go play Black Flag again. Or any of the Ezio Trilogy.