Oh gosh. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Warcraft, despite getting a kicking from most critics, was a film I enjoyed, so much so that I purchased it on Blu-ray upon its release. Hell even Angry Birds a decent, if not spectacular, animated comedy got a pass in my book, so much so that I got a free copy of the film to review when it came out, mostly from sheer indifference to its mediocrity (Not so much a vote of defiance with my hard earned cash, as one of indifference to getting it for free). However I watched it again, courtesy of my free DVD, and found it to be charming enough to scrape by. With these stepping stones aside it was time for Assassin’s Creed, a breathtakingly cinematic videogame series, to take to the limelight and cast aside the fallacy that it’s impossible to make a good videogame adaptation. However, as I imagine you gathered from the “Oh Gosh” that began this paragraph, things have not gone according to plan.
Michael Fassbender produces and stars as both Callum Lynch, a boring guy you couldn’t really care less about, and Aguilar, a Spanish Assassin who you also couldn’t really care less about, but can do backflips. Forced to relive the days of his ancestor inside a machine called the Animus so that scientists, whose names I never committed to my long term memory played by Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons, can find a mysterious artefact known as the Apple of Eden.
As a fan of the games since their inception I should be the ideal target audience for the series to appeal too. But there is no target audience for this movie. Kneecapped to begin with by a poor script that has far too much expository dialogue, it doesn’t exactly burst out the gate. With the amount of exposition been force-fed to us the plot should make some sense but the storytelling is still muddled and confusing. Poor Marion Cotillard, an undoubtedly wonderful actress, is left high and dry explaining the narrative in what seems like the videogame cut-scene from hell. Whilst Fassbender, one of the most engaging, creative and gifted actors of his generation, is lethargically dull as both Connor, and Aguilar the Spanish free-runner. There are three main flashback sequences in the film and of the three only the second really showcases the best of what the film can do. A madcap chase across the rooftops that brings the games to life in a thrilling, fast paced, pursuit. But it’s only five minutes, and aside from that there isn’t anything here of interest. The gritty, barren, Spain that we are taken back through feels sickly, grey and lifeless leaving us with a dumb action film that looks like it was shot by a coal mining enthusiast. When Jeremy Irons makes an appearance, you pray that he’s going to deliver a scenery chewing feast of his acting qualities, but he too is just as quiet, low-key, and seemingly bored as everyone else. Justin Kurzel is a promising filmmaker, this doesn’t change that, but this is a misfire. Fassbender appears to be delivering a sub-par display, but he produced this damn thing so I know he is trying his hardest and it just isn’t showing.
Assassin’s Creed is a slog to wade through and a disappointing waste of potential that may add to the misconception that videogames cannot be adapted to film. Despite an A-list cast, promising director, and at least three screenwriters, there isn’t enough there to allow Assassin’s Creed to fly by. This Leap of faith missed the pile of hay and has firmly splatted on the concrete.
Dir: Justin Kurzel
Scr: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Michael Kenneth Williams, Charlotte Rampling, Brendan Gleeson, Ariane Labed
Prd: Jean-Julien Baronnet, Gerard Guillermot, Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Michael Fassbender, Conor McCaughan, Arnon Milchan
DOP: Adam Arkapaw
Music: Jed Kurzel
Country: USA, France
Runtime: 116 Minutes
Assassin’s Creed is out now in UK cinemas.