Computer game movie adaptations haven’t really got a good history, with the likes of Street Fighter, Mario Bros. and Mortal Kombat all getting harsh reviews in the past, but in the Assassins Creed movie we had high expectations for an epic adventure. However, sadly what we are left with is a confused and slightly confusing transition from what is a quality game to an overly serious, laboured and ultimately poor film.
The story overall isn’t terrible in itself, as it follows the general principle of the computer games that have gone before eight with death-row criminal Callum being used to extract memories from his Assassin ancestor. The bad news, though, is that the delivery lacks the sheer entertainment factor of the computer games, which has evolved significantly over the years.
There is a little too much emphasis on the present too, with not enough time spent in the past, which often feels like a bit of a side story, especially with the Spanish language and subtitles. If that isn’t bad enough all by itself, the set-up in the present day is a little bit all over the place with the facility for Abstergo Industries coming across as being far too ridiculous to be plausible.
The combination of a prison and scientific tech labs all under the same roof doesn’t really work all that well and the father daughter team in charge of it seems forced and unnecessary. The film also includes an over-the-top interpretation of the animus device, which sends Callum back to relive his ancestor’s memories. Despite being connected to it around the waist and through a connection in the back of his skull he still manages to do forward rolls and other impossible manoeuvres, which lacks any level of credibility.
The dialogue is woeful throughout with clunky dictum for both the Assassins and the Templars, however, it’s the interactions between Callum and the rest of the characters that really brings the film down. Having recently been impressed with Michael Fassbender in Alien: Covenant, we had high hopes for his performance in the Assassins Creed movie. Sadly, he doesn’t really live up to the expectations, but we can’t help but feel that it’s more the fault of the director Justin Kurzel the actor himself. It’s a similar story for both Marion Cotillard (Macbeth) as the scientist behind the work on the Animus and Jeremy Irons (Justice League), who plays her father and high ranking Templar, Alan Rikkin.
Assassin’s Creed trailer:
The rest of the cast are fairly non-descript with Brendan Gleeson (Paddington 2) being entirely irrelevant as Callum’s father and fellow Assassin. The only real positive comes from Ariane Labed (The Lobster) who plays Maria, an Assassin who works alongside Callum’s ancestor Aquilar back in 15th century Spain. She doesn’t have much to work with, but when she is on camera she’s got great presence and strong delivery.
Continuing the review on a positive note there are a few incredible fight sequence, fast-paced Parkour chase scenes and impressive visuals to look forward to when the film does delve into the past. Justin Kurzel seems most comfortable when he’s working with more of an a historical setting as was the case with Macbeth, which also starred Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. The vistas are sweeping and sun soaked with an almost acidic haze to the visualisation. This is helped by director of photography Adam Arkapaw, whose understanding of scale and perspective, colour, light and speed is one of the best parts of the film.
The costumes in the past are pretty cool too, as are the subtle special effects which help to bring the Granada War to life in the film. It’s a shame it didn’t get more screen time and a story that developed the characters of the past.
Things are much less impressive in the present day, so not only is it frustrating to see it feature quite so much in the story, it’s also delivered badly. It feels like a film that could have been rescued with a number of simple changes, but instead it’s mired in stretched complexities and a limited understanding of the ethos behind the computer games series.
The Assassins Creed DVD should have been one of the big releases of the year, but as it stands it’s one you might want to pass over. Without any of the adventure and entertainment value of the game, and with its annoying delivery, this is yet another computer game adaptation that disappoints. Where the likes of Street Fighter and Mario Bros. were laughable, but ultimately endearing, Assassin’s Creed is flat, disconnected and annoying.
Assassins Creed DVD review: 2/5