“I’m crazy for trying…and I’m crazy for crying…and I’m crazy for loving you.”
These lyrics from the song “Crazy,” as performed by Patsy Cline, accurately describe my feelings toward the Assassin’s Creed film. To start off bluntly, the new film based on Ubisoft’s assassination extravaganza franchise is absolutely fine. Not Citizen Kane, but certainly not deserving of its current holding of 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The story is as follows; Callum Lynch (as played by Michael Fassbender) is the descendant of an asesino from the Spanish Inquisition named Aguilar de Nehra. Lynch is eventually picked up by an Abstergo employee (Marion Cotillard) and thus begins a happy adventure of friendship and trust. I lie of course- the real meat of the story starts and things getting hacky ‘n’ slashy quick.
Right off the bat, the visuals are fantastic. Beautifully crafted CGI and long running camera shots do a great job of setting up the presence and expansiveness of the film. There might have been an overuse of effects in some scenes here and there, but it flows together well enough that I didn’t find myself dropping out of the movie at any point. Also, speaking of expansiveness, the widespread view of city structures and large scale battles that took place throughout really gave off a good sense that when Lynch was eventually plugged into the Animus, this was what the time period was like in that day and age.
The choreography should be praised as well, as the feel of the games really takes shape here. You can definitely tell that a lot of care and effort was put into each fight scene, and it really doesn’t let up. Some might say that the film becomes a little too dependent on action, but those people have no idea what Assassin’s Creed is. That would be like complaining that Die Hard lacks a deep and interesting narrative. On the subject of choreography however, I was extremely interested to see how the stunt drop that was boasted about would look overall when the film was said and done. I must say, however, when that particular scene comes up it’s a dazzling experience, but ironically feels undercut by the CG elements. Still, pretty cool though. I know, I know, backtracking.
The story overall isn’t much to talk about; a pretty average tale with some dynamic characters and some not-so-dynamic ones. Michael Fassbender really shines in his main role. As well, Marion Cotillard gives a great performance as someone who’s just, in the end, trying to do the right thing. Other roles that stood out were Jeremy Irons and Michael K. Williams. I especially liked Michael K. Williams and thought that the banter between him and Fassbender was quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, as excited as I was to see Irons on screen, I really wanted to see more out of him. Perhaps more aggression or a more sinister character arc, but something just felt lacking there. Brendan Gleeson’s role also was a bit undermined. He was played to great effect, but could have been a more prominent feature throughout.
Moving on to video game and film connections, the list is surprisingly short. There’s one (from what I could see) dedicated scene in the movie where it shows you all the weapons of the assassins from the games leading up to the film, but it doesn’t really add any substance. It’s more of an Easter egg that’s not that difficult to find. It’s a nice treat for the fans of the series, though; something that can be talked about with glee after the credits role. “Did you see Conway’s pistols!” “Absolutely, how about Jacob’s cane sword?”- that sort of thing.
I suppose it’s no longer evitable, but I feel as though that the major reason that this film is currently rated as negatively as it is is because of its stance as a “video game” movie. Now maybe I’m just easy to please, maybe I just don’t have a certain je ne sais quoi to be reviewing film, however ladies and gentleman, it’s a good film. You may have a different opinion and that’s your opinion to have, but I liked it. No round about way of saying it, I liked it. I also like Suicide Squad though, so what do I know?
To wrap up, if you’re going to check out this flick, I’d definitely give it two thumbs up. It marks a true benchmark for video game films moving forward and really gives me hope for the future of what video game based movies might look like. Whether it’s the upcoming Splinter Cell, the supposedly planned Ghost Recon or the new IP Watch Dogs that may break this Rotten Tomatoes curse, I’ll always look with fondness at Assassin’s Creed the film.