Monday, 15 May 2017

Assassin's Creed (2016) - Film Review


*Originally written January 1st, 2017*

I'm no stranger to the Assassin's Creed franchise. I've finished all the main games bar Syndicate and Rogue, but I have been a huge fan so I was pretty excited when Michael Fassbender would be starring in an adaptation of the series from the director of 2015's Macbeth (Which I loved).

The film has now come, it's bombed at the box-office and it was panned by the critics. My expectations were lowered a lot, but I actually ended up having a decent time with Assassin's Creed. It's a bit messy and muddled, but it's visually beautiful, features a usually great performance from Fassbender, but above all, I was very entertained. I actually quite liked a film based on a video game. It might just be a late Christmas miracle.

The story sadly does not take from any of the games. It instead follows a new character, Callum Lynch played by Fassbender, who is a death row inmate who's death is faked as he's transported to the Abstergo facility where the Templar Order put him in a machine called the Animus that allows him to access the memories of his ancestors who were assassins, where he needs to find out what happened to the Apple of Eden.

Olden days Fassbender
Yeah, it's convoluted nonsense. It at least captures the nonsensical silliness of the games by taking itself far too seriously. The Animus machine makes no sense at all. Rather than the VR like bed of the games, its instead a weird attachment to the users head where they're able to run around in a confined space. Without the help of visual effects in the scene, it would have looked laughable.

Much like the video games, all the best stuff is when the lead is actually in the Animus focusing on his assassin ancestor. In many ways the stuff in the Animus feels like a video game where the audience in thrown in the middle of a mission 3 or 4 times in the film. While these scenes aren't entirely meshed well into the film, they are at least the most visually stunning, mirroring what made director Justin Kurzel's Macbeth so great.

Despite being based on a mature rated franchise, the violence in Assassin's Creed is sadly toned-down for a teen audience. Characters use knives and swords, but it is all next to bloodless. Things cut away and get a little choppy during the set-pieces in order to get its 12A/PG-13 rating. Although, knowing Fox, there might be an uncut version on the Blu-ray release.

Fassbender fighting round the world
Even with the toned down and hastily edited action, where Assassin's Creed disappoints most is with its characters. Don't get me wrong, the cast are all fine, working with what they're given, but despite Fassbender's modern day character, there is nothing to anyone else. Fassbender's assassin ancestor Aguilar is a paper-thin character, he barely says anything and we know nothing about him. I do like the look of his character though. Marion Cotillard isn't given much to do, neither is Jeremy Irons as the villain of the film, despite have evil intentions?

Assassin's Creed is what it is. It's a dumb, yet beautifully shot action film based on a game where people access their ancestors memories. It's not amazing, but it is very entertaining 110 minutes. Which is more than I can ask for with a game based on a film.

7/10 Dans

Assassin's Creed is out now on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

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