Based on the video game franchise, the film starts in the year 1492 where a group of secret assassins swear to protect the Prince of Grenada. These are the Assassin’s Brotherhood who have long opposed the Templar Order. Hundreds of years later Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is executed for murder, but he wakes up inside the compound of a mysterious company who have traced his heritage and found out he’s related to one of the Assassins. They have built a machine that allows Callum to inhabit the memories of his ancestor and tasked him with finding the Apple of Eden.
These days the best video games have their own rich story line and interesting characters that they are, in their own way, cinematic. So much so that video games really don’t need the movie treatment anymore. That, of course, doesn’t stop studios churning out poor movie adaptions of video games and Assassin’s Creed continues that trend (it says a lot when the best video game adaptation of the year is Angry Birds). I’m not an avid player of the Assassin Creed franchise (I’ve played the second game) but the main issue I have is that the games were rated for mature players, the film, however, is rated 12A. The 12A rating isn’t the curx of the issue, however, it’s the fact that the camera cuts away at the slightest notion of violence meaning that the action sequences and choppily edited. This is done so that film gets that 12A rating.
The film’s narrative is best described as confusing, the overall story itself (which seems to lack understanding of pacing) is easy enough to understand but the general plot poses a lot of “but why were” or “why would” type questions because the flimsy narrative leaves gaping holes. The film takes a number of narrative missteps with the decision to spend the majority of time in the Animus world being the biggest misstep of all. The Animus was essentially the boring parts of the game so it’s befuddling that the film would wish to spend so much time there. The best parts of the Assassin Creed video games was the exploration of the worlds the developers created, jumping from building to building, and killing enemies in the most ingenious way possible. There’s very little of that in the film and what there is of it is clouded by dust, further obscuring what can be seen the film’s frantically edited action scenes.
There soaring shots that follows the bird in middle age Spain is perhaps the only really impressive thing in a film that wastes the talents of the stars involved. It would be a disappointment if video game adaptions weren’t constantly disappointing.