Main cast: Michael Fassbender (Callum Lynch/Aguilar de Nerha), Marion Cotillard (Sophia Rikkin), Brendan Gleeson (Joseph Lynch), Charlotte Rampling (Ellen Kaye), Denis Menochet (McGowen), Michael K Williams (Moussa/Baptiste), Ariane Labed (Maria), Michelle Lin (Lin), and Jeremy Irons (Alan Rikkin)
Director: Justin Kurzel
Oh boy, Michael Fassbender actually co-produced Assassin’s Creed, which is the movie based on the popular video game franchise. This one features a brand new character created just for the movie, Callum Lynch, and incorporates elements from the various installments in the video game franchise. To be fair to the movie, it does keep faithfully to these elements, right down to the choppy action sequence (which is frantic and cuts from past to present), but these elements do not translate well to the big screen. I mean, when one is playing the game and is actively engaged, these sequences are fine. When one is just a passive member of the audience, the sole act of engagement is popping snacks into the mouth while watching the big screen, then these elements end up making the movie draggy, drab, and utterly dull.
Callum Lynch is on the death row due to killing a pimp. That pimp deserved it, naturally. Our hero has had a tough life, having orphaned young when his father killed his mother (Callum stumbled upon the scene after the deed was done, so he was haunted by the whole thing), and now he is about to die. Okay, he doesn’t die, having been rescued by the Rikkin family after making sure that the world believes that our hero has indeed died. Alan Rikkin runs Abstergo Industries, and his daughter Sophia needs Callum’s help.
You see, in this world, there are two shadowy organizations dating back to the days of the early Crusade. The Templars are the bad guys here – unlike the Illuminati, they want to end injustice by controlling the world and ensuring total obedience of the population to the society. Opposing them are the Assassins, who forsake moral code and personal interests for the greater good – to stop the Templars from achieving their goals.
Abstergo Industries is the front of the Templars in the new world in the modern day, and Sophia has created the Animus, a special device that allows one to tap into the memories of one’s ancestors. You see, memories of one’s ancestors are encoded in the DNA, and yes, this is bad science at its finest. But let’s just play along – it’s Christmas and I don’t want to waste too much time on this review. Anyway, Callum’s ancestor is Aguilar de Nerha, the last assassin in possession of the Apple of Eden. The Apple contains the “DNA code” of human’s free will, you see, and if the Templars can discover what this code is, they can then enslave the world. I know, bad science but come on, be nice and play along.
So Callum is forcefully hog-tied to the Animus, and we then get to see flashbacks of what happened to Aguilar, his colleague Maria, and the whole missing Apple. Meanwhile, using what is basically a virtual reality simulator can apparently give one superhuman strength, agility, and dexterity, because Callum is soon doing that assassin kung-fu thing in the penultimate moments of the movie. And… that’s it.
The biggest problem with this one is how predictable it is. The big “twists” can be seen coming from a mile away. But it’s not just the “big” things here that are the tedious same old; even the small moments are, too. Justin Kurzel’s direction embodies every cliché in the genre that it is as if this was his first time in the hot seat and he needs to cram as many tired old tropes as possible. Hence, long pointless scenes of people standing before a panoramic view to discuss vapid “deep” stuff, plenty of long-drawn scenes of Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard just staring hard (in fact, Ms Cotillard basically spends the entire move just staring ahead and pouting), and more are everywhere here. The end result is a movie that feels interminably long, far longer than its actual length. The movie has many action scenes, but because there are so many unnecessary slow-motion stuff and people engaging in staring contests, the whole thing feels more draggy and sluggish than it probably is.
Mr Fassbender tries to save things by fighting shirtless later in the movie, but, you know, I don’t feel that he is hot as much as he is just pretty in a generic, forgettable manner, so his efforts don’t really work on me, I’m afraid. Then again, he is channeling Keanu Reeves-level of wooden acting here, so if he is hoping to remain in mainstream relevance after the tired X-Men movie franchise is put out to pasture, he needs to fire his agent and reconsider his place in the world, or else he’d have to settle on being the next dude to fake-date Taylor Swift. I’m singling him out here because the dear man actually has a producer credit on this thing, oh dear.
At any rate, Assassin’s Creed is shockingly boring and uninspired, and the whole thing resembles a messy fan-made YouTube video done by someone who is doing this thing for the first time. The video game cutscenes are far better and more entertaining than everything in this movie, so I’d recommend watching those instead of paying money to be bored witless by this thing.