If you aren't familiar with the story of the Assassin's Creed franchise, let me give you a background: Assassin's Creed centers on a long-standing war between two factions - the Templars and the Assassins. Each side has opposing philosophies, with the Templars wanting to eliminate free will in order to attain peace and order, while the Assassins fight for the freedom of choice and free will.
For the longest time, both factions have sought relics called Pieces of Eden, precursor relics that can control the minds of man. The Templars seek to use these artifacts in order to subjugate mankind while the Assassins seek to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
That's the gist of it, basically. If you want a more in-depth look at the series' lore, you can check out this guide we made that eases newbies into the Assassin's CreedÃÂÃ franchise.
Now that we've got that down, let's proceed to the movie.
[MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW]
The story follows Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender), a convict who is abducted by Abstergo Industries, which is an organization run by the Templars. These people plan to place Callum in the Animus, an advanced machine that simulates memories of the subject's ancestors, in order to find a powerful relic called an Apple of Eden.
Callum is apparently related to Aguilar de Nerha (also played by Michael Fassbender), the last known Assassin to hide the relic. On his journey through his ancestor's eyes, he then picks up the skills needed to make him the perfect killing machine in order to engineer his escape from Abstergo.
Visually, the movie feels very much like an Assassin's Creed game. They got the set designs and the costumes right, the action sequences with all those fancy parkour moves were entertaining to watch, and even the aerial view of the city is very similar to when you activate Eagle Vision to map out an area in the video games. The Animus was even upgraded to a fancier model for the movie.
But all of that effort is ruined by a poorly written script. Let me elaborate.
Since the lore of the franchise is so convoluted, the producers decided to dumb the story down for the movie. There was not much effort to provide the script with depth, so the audience is helplessly left with vague, abstract ideas as to what motivates the characters.
If you have never played the video games, this poses a big problem. For example, Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) wants the Apple of Eden because she wants to 'cure violence'. In the video games, this concept is given more meat through codex entries and environmental cues. But since time is of the essence in a movie, they decided to leave out all the backstories and settle for 'cure violence'.
The dialogue even sounds like it was taken right out of a video game. I mean that in a negative sense because the interactions between the characters do not seem natural. There are some things that can work only in video games, the same way that there are plot points that appeal only in novels.
It's frustrating because the cast ensemble for Assassin's Creed is impressive. On paper, a movie with Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, and Brendan Gleeson seems like an excellent idea. But Jeremy Irons' screen time is as short as the opening credits and for some reason, Cotillard maintained a monotone delivery throughout the film. You can also count the lines of Fassbender's Aguilar with your fingers. He doesn't speak much, and if he does it's usually to recite passages from the creed.
Also, just to manage your expectations, only one-third of the movie is set during the Spanish Inquisition. This is unfortunate because this era has the scenes that are worth watching. I'd even give the actors props for delivering their dialogues in Spanish all throughout the memory sequences.
But since the movie is focused more on the present day, it feels like they needed to drag the movie on with meaningless scenes until the film's finale. The latter half of the movie was an utter snoozefest!
There is this particular scene where Callum fully synchronizes with Aguilar which involves the ghosts of the Spanish Assassins appearing to 'send Callum off' on his mission. That scene alone took almost 10 minutes, which would be totally fine if there was any dialogue in-between. Unfortunately, there was little to none.
The finale isn't even that big of a deal, to be honest. If you were expecting the movie to end with a bang, then you'll be terribly disappointed.
Sadly, the Assassin's Creed movie failed to lift the curse of video game-to-movie adaptations. It wasn't that horrible but unfortunately, I can't call it great or even good.If you're a huge fan of the franchise, then by all means, take a leap of faith and watch this movie. But for everyone else, this is one movie you might not synchronize well with.