“Assassin’s Creed” is a perplexing mess.
Its characters are not developed at all, its story is the most convoluted I’ve seen all year, and its action brutally underwhelming. This is only made worse by the A-List cast (Michael Fassbender of the X-Men films, Marion Cottilard of “The Dark Knight Rises,” and Jeremy Irons) being forced to speak some of the worst dialogue I have ever heard. If you’ve seen the trailer for “Assassin’s Creed,” then you have seen the movie itself.
There are no underlying themes, deeper character layers, or emotional momentum of any kind here. What is here is the first draft of a script that needed some major tweaking to be somewhat decent. You don’t turn in the first draft of an essay to your professor; you write it, take it to them for look-overs, and make the necessary changes. This film runs like the screenwriters wrote their essay two hours before it was due and handed it to the studio hoping for a half-decent project. If I were their professor, or a studio exec, I would say they failed. Fans of the game (I am one myself) will leave insulted, and everyone else will wake up when their spouse/significant other nudges them as the credits role.
I’ll try to explain this as simply as possible: Fassbender is Cal Lynch, a prisoner who undergoes lethal injection after an offscreen crime. He is surprised to be woken up by Sofia (Cotillard), a scientist working for Abstergo Industries who (and get ready for this): wants to connect him to a machine that will allow him to relive the memories of his 500-year-old ancestor. Abstergo’s purpose? Apparently, Cal’s ancestor holds a mystical macguffin containing “The genetic code of Free Will,” and capturing this macguffin will allow the company to end violence the world over. Held against his will, Cal agrees, unaware that Abstergo may hold more nefarious intentions for him and the world at large. Mwahahahahahaha!
This is a terrible movie. It has some of the worst writing I’ve heard in a long time (And I watched “Addams Family Reunion” a few months ago). How Ubisoft (the company who made this game) allowed such a confusing, unfinished product out the door is beyond my comprehension; they even made a film company, with this as their first major release. If I was an Ubisoft exec and someone gave me this as the final script, I would fire them and find someone who knew how to write dialogue in a way that would be understandable to human beings. I don’t know what planet the three screenwriters came from, but they should return to it.
The cinematography and camerawork are also hilarious. The “action” scenes have decent choreography, but the camera is moving at a rate so choppy that I can barely see anything during them. To add insult to injury, the action sequences will abruptly end just when they are becoming fun, as if the movie is saying, “You were about to get invested in what was happening? My mistake.” Everyone who criticized “Transformers: Age of Extinction” will now regret it, as that film at least had some fun action.
To end on a somewhat praise-worthy note, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are bringing their A-games to the material. They obviously care about this product and are injecting as much energy as they can to try and salvage it. Unfortunately, even their best efforts cannot make schlock like this into Shakespeare, leading to endless moments of unintentional hilarity. I admire them both as actors and would like to see them in a project that allows their talents to be shown, but this just doesn’t work. Jeremy Irons as Sofia’s Father (in yet another turkey after “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice”) knows exactly the kind of movie he’s in, and is playing it as such. I saw this with my best friend (a major fan of the game), and I think the two of us could have written a better screenplay with the same cast, production budget, and locations. This film comprises everything wrong with modern action movies: no character development, limp story, and, worst of all, complete forgettability. Should I release a “Worst of” list, this movie will be number one. Such a shame to see fine thespians in this laughable ludicrous material, but I cannot change their decision.
“Assassin’s Creed” is a contrived, horrendously written mess that, despite the best efforts of its too leads, will likely go down as yet another reason why video games should stay within hands of the player, and not film studios.
Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Violence and Action, Thematic Elements, and Brief Strong Language (perhaps the finest and most realistic line comes out of said Language, so it’s worth it).