Over-produced and devoid of tension, Assassin's Creed ignores all the things that made its source material great.
The original ‘Assassin’s Creed’ video game upon which this film is based (yes, another one) was a sublime blend of world design, innovative mechanics and thrilling gameplay. While high-octane action was available, stealth was definitely favoured as the most useful mode of play and almost always proved the most gripping, too. The game’s story centred upon a technological breakthrough that allowed direct descendants of an ancient assassin’s guild to revisit the memories of their ancestors, essentially re-living their darkest and most dangerous endeavours in order to ascertain the location of a long-lost relic. While some time was spent in the modern world, the lion’s share was spent inside the machine, allowing the gamer to experience all the exhilaration of exploring and causing chaos in the age of Renaissance Europe.
The film adaption, by contrast, makes the same ill-conceived decision that doomed the third instalment of the Matrix trilogy in that it focusses almost all of its time in the real world at the expense of everything that made its source material so innovative and engaging. Worse, when inside the ‘Animus’, the action is dialled up to ’stupid’, meaning there’s almost none of the signature stealth assassination that made the gameplay so tense and different. Overly-coreographed and devoid or tension, these periodic action scenes depict the assassins as mostly ineffective killers who spend most of their time running away from superior fighters.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment, however, is that Assassin’s Creed boasts an outstanding cast of A-Listers whose talents are entirely under-utilised. Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling are all tasked with delivering exposition-heavy drivel and/or cringeworthy clangers like “Welcome…to the Spanish Inquisition”. Truly, the only line that earns a non-ironic laugh and feels genuine to both the film and the actor who delivers it comes about halfway through the film, when Fassbender looks around, laughs to himself and mutters: “What the fuck is going on?”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more fitting by-line for the posters.