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Assassin’s Creed Movie Review

Caitlin LaCour

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Continuing the long-standing trend of movie adaptations from video games, we get Assassin’s Creed, probably the biggest disappointment and waste of potential I’ve ever seen in theaters.

The movie is based off the game series of the same name. Assassin’s Creed, developed and published by Ubisoft, is set in a fictional history of real-world events and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The video game series was (since it’s initial release of the first game in 2007) and still is (Assassin’s Creed Syndicate which was released in 2015) iconic, and has influenced the gaming community and pop culture. There are nine main entries into the series. However, I believe that the movie Assassin’s Creed was based off of the very first game in the series, which was coincidentally the least favorite for many fans of the franchise.

The first game takes place in 2012. A man named Desmond Miles is kidnapped by a company called Abstergo and forced to relive his ancestor’s memories using a machine called the Animus. In the animus, Desmond relives the memories of his ancestor Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, a member of the Assassins during the Third Crusade in the Holy Land in 1191. Desmond, as a character, is very charismatic and relatable, an everyday guy forced into an extraordinary situation. And though in later games in the series you play as much better Assassins, Altair still has personality, strengths and weaknesses. He’s brass and arrogant, but noble and determined. You are also introduced to an intricate plot and conspiracies that span decades, all for the search for the Apple of Eden, a relic of a long-forgotten civilization said to possess god-like powers. It’s a very complex, intriguing game with some amazing combat and action sequences, but suffered from being dull, bland, and lacking spirit.

The movie, Assassin’s Creed, takes the absolute worst elements of the first game and leaves out the best. None of the beloved characters from the game are present- the modern day Assassins, Desmond, Lucy, Shaun, and Rebecca, or the past Assassins, Altair, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Connor Kenway, Edward Kenway, Arno Dorian, Jacob and Evie Frye. Instead we get unknown characters, even though the characters ALREADY EXISTED and were well written and interesting and loved by fans.

Disregarding the charismatic, relatable Desmond Miles in favor of a new main character wouldn’t have been a big deal if the new lead was actually interesting. Where Desmond was charming, sarcastic, and good-spirited, the replacement Desmond is his polar opposite. And where Altair was young, bold, brass, and arrogant, the replacement Altair is… nothing.

Let’s elaborate on the new main leads.

For the sake of the rest of this review, let’s pretend that this movie wasn’t based on a much-loved video game franchise. Let’s pretend this is a stand-alone. Does it work then?

Not by a long shot.

The story follows a man named Callum Lynch (played by Michael Fassbender). The movie starts with a long, dark scene of some men and a woman in robes speaking Italian in the year 1200ish. We see one man get his finger chopped off. We realize this is an initiation into the order of the Assassin’s brotherhood. We realize this because the movie literally tells you by making you read the subtitles. The assassin, who we find out is named Aguilar, is given the mission of protecting a prince.

We then see, in the 1980s, young Cal, seeing his father kill his mother. He runs away. Then it cuts to years later, and Cal is now grown up, in prison, and being sent to the electric chair.

Wait, what?

If it’s the beginning of the movie and you’re already confused, you know you’re in for a bad time. With no character development at all, how are we supposed to care that this man who we know nothing about is about to be executed? Why is he being executed? You’d think they’d at least answer that question, but the only semblance of a backstory we get for Cal about to get executed by electric chair is ‘for murder’. So we now know this man saw his mother killed and killed man himself.

He gets executed and dies, and the screen goes black. If that’s where the movie ended, we’d have been better off. The audience knows Cal isn’t dead. He’s obviously the main character because he was on the movie’s posters, and honestly if it weren’t for the posters who would’ve known this man was even the main character.

So he’s brought back to life by a scientist lady named Dr. Sophia Rikkin. He’s in some big corporate headquarters for a company called Abstergo. A bunch of men in grey jumpsuits are being held there by guards, but the doctor assures Cal he isn’t a prisoner and he can leave whenever he wants. Hang onto those words. We then see a heavily-drugged Cal stumble through the halls, running into people and walls as the camera shakes and blurs, in an unintentionally comical scene.  I know it was unintentionally funny because I was the only one laughing in a packed theater. He almost kills himself by jumping off the roof, but is talked down and is told he can help and afterwards go free. He agrees to participate, but is begrudging.

From there it’s a confusing jumble of plot that I won’t bother to go into.

The characters in this movie are all so boring, dull, and generally unmemorable that I have a hard time even recalling what their names were. We had Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch, a brooding, angsty man with anger issues. Sophia Rikkin, who’s name I only knew because I looked it up, was just as dull and emotionless. We also had four other prisoners, members of the Assassins whose names I can’t even find with Google. Here’s a fact- nobody in the movie smiles. We get one smile from Callum. That’s it. The entire movie everyone maintains a serious, dead expression. And the way the speak- long… elongated… pauses. I started to think that the run time for this movie (116 minutes) was based almost entirely off of the pauses.

The action scenes were amazing, and that’s the one positive I can give this movie. The way they integrate the action sequences taking place in the past with the modern science facility is very well done. The fighting is well choreographed and fans as well as people familiar with the action in the game franchise will be pleased at the movements. So in the sense of the action, it kept true to the game series.

Nothing else holds up. The movie is shot in a dark, gradient film that makes the whole movie look like it was put through an Instagram filter. It really just adds to the dark, depressing, dull tone of the entire movie.

I don’t regret seeing this movie, just because it was a blast to make fun of it after seeing it.

3/10

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