When it was announced that there would be an upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie coming out I was really excited to see what they would do with it. After all I had played a few of the games and was familiar with some of the lore. I also know that a lot of viewers who never played any of the games would not be so familiar and therefore 20th Century Fox would have to make an effort to bring folks up to speed which unfortunately was not done. Movie goers in this case are treated as if they are already in the know which hurts this film. For those of you who aren’t familiar the basic premise is that there is an ancient brotherhood of assassins who have been at war with the Templars over various relics that if found could lead to taking away free will from society. The Templars try to get these relics and through assassination the brotherhood tries to safeguard them. Sounds simple right?
Here’s where things may get a little confusing if you haven’t went through the adventures with Ezio or Captain Kenway from the game series. Time periods are kind of fluid in the game as well as the movie in that the protagonists for both are descendants of people from the past who were a part of the brotherhood of assassins with a strict code they believed in hence the creed portion of “Assassin’s Creed”. Abstergo Industries is a multinational corporation that built a machine called an animus which would allow these descendants to go back in time merging with their ancestors to witness the deeds of some of these assassins at pivotal moments in history. That muddies things a bit and I don’t want to go further into it so as not to spoil anything in case you haven’t had the chance to view the film and want to. I can see how having no knowledge of any of this would confuse someone who never played the games or is just not a gamer in general.
Michael Fassbender plays Cal Lynch a Descendant of Aguilar an assassin from 15th century Spain during the Spanish inquisition. We see a young Cal who runs from home after a death in the family and later they fast forward to him being in his late 30’s and is on death row in Texas. The death row bit is not a spoiler because you see the fact that he was pronounced dead but obviously isn’t from the trailer. Here’s my issue. As a viewer I want to know why he’s on death row in the first place and how he grew up, and you don’t get that here. I and I am sure many other viewers want a reason to care about the protagonist and you only do that through some sort of connection by learning more about them. This process is rushed and all but glossed over. What we get instead are scenes where you along with Cal are thrown immediately into the action which in the game is more fun, but in the cinema is a disservice to movie goers as well as the characters.
Speaking of a disservice to characters there of course are other descendants of assassins here but they are not really fleshed out, we don’t know who their ancestors are or what era they’re from which is a shame. I for one was very interested in who Michael K. Williams character was a descendant of and can barely remember his characters name. I am sure I wasn’t alone in that. Maybe they tried to cram too much into this film and the character development element was simply forgone in favor of the action sequences because we do get to see them fight in the past as well as in the present. The action at least is fast paced and well done, but in order to pull this off there needed t o be more. At least that’s how I felt.
Gamers familiar with the franchise will be happy to note that this film did remain faithful to the parkour and fighting they’ve come to know and love from the franchise. The fight choreography was great and they even threw in a leap of faith that I am sure most familiar with the game loved when it happened, but this film was all fluff no substance which I am sure in the end will hurt it. Hopefully 20th Century Fox will take another leap of faith and risk the money to produce another film so that they can get it right the second time.
Here would be my short wishlist if they do get s second change at bringing this franchise to the big screen. Give us more time to see the protagonist develop so we know why they are the way they are and how they’re connected to their ancestor (in addition to DNA). Focus on that main character and don’t give us any other assassins if you’re not going to flesh them out and reveal what family they come from. We are in the age of the blockbuster movie series! They could give the group of assassins individual films going through each ones history before the finale where they all come together to fight the evil Templars a la Avengers style. Lastly give us villains we can get to know and dislike (or like if you are of the dark side) on more than a surface level. Here the villains are villain simply because we are told that’s what they are but there’s no real example of why given other than they are in opposition to the assassin’s brotherhood which is inherently ambiguous because well assassins kill people after all. Had I not played the games it would be hard to tell who’s who.
The action I would have to say was done well and really is the only saving grace for this film but it’s just not enough to give it some potential longevity. The black knight fighting for the Templars was good but had very little screen time although most of it was in fighting scenes so it made him generic big bad guy number one which in my opinion is another wasted opportunity. I believe because of the franchises following they’ll make enough money to keep it going. At least that’s my hope anyway. It made over 10M opening weekend and thus far has grossed 50M which is less than half of the 125M estimated budget. Hopefully some fan boys and girls will come out the wood work and help them out.
Well those were my thoughts on the film. If you saw the film I’d love to see your opinions so by all means drop a comment. Would you be willing to take another trip to the past through an animus if given a chance? I would if they do it right. Next up I’ll be taking a look at Under World Blood Wars starring Kate Beckinsale. Until next time.