Assassin’s Creed (2016) – Film Review
Director: Justin Kurzel
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons
by Roger Crow
My eyelids feel droopy. I can’t believe this is happening again. A couple of weeks after almost nodding off during Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I’m almost asleep again.
This never used to happen. Is it an age thing? Have I reached that point where a dark cinema has turned me into a narcoleptic? The answer is no. The reason is Assassin’s Creed, the big screen version of a video game I used to play back in the day.
I enjoyed it for a time; the running and jumping; climbing ancient towers; diving into haystacks; stealthily pinching stuff and tackling assailants. I tended to skip the cut scenes as they were so earnest and a little dull. The movie version is one long cut scene, and a very tiresome one at that.
The pedigree is pretty good. A ripped Michael Fassbender and aloof Marion Cotillard re-team with Justin Kurzel, the director of Macbeth for the tale of Callum Lynch, a Death Row inmate saved from an early demise because he’s the ancestor of someone who knows where the Apple of Eden is, an object which will bring an end to wars, and be generally bad for the league of assassins at the heart of the drama.
“Earnest and humourless”
As our hero runs around and fights bad guys in a 15th-century virtual reality world, we cut between then and now via a series of hazy tinted vistas. The whole movie looks like it’s been doctored using an Instagram filter, one that makes everything look underdeveloped and over-saturated at the same time. It’s one of those rare times the 3D version looks more interesting without the glasses.
The booming, intrusive Jed Kurzel score bombards the eardrums with deafening moments of what should be epic grandeur but have little to do with what’s going on.
Then there’s Jeremy Irons, who spends most of the movie watching other people do things. I get the feeling a mannequin with an Irons face mask would have been as effective. (The mannequin in the Irons mask if you like).
Film versions of games rarely work because the medium is about problem-solving and interacting with things. Watching someone else have all the fun is no fun for the audience, even when the protagonists are as good as the cast being wasted here.
Assassin’s Creed the movie might attempt to scale dizzy heights, but because it’s so earnest and humourless, it winds up crashing back to earth early in the run time and fails to recover.
It’s a one-note epic which boasts some okay fight scenes, but tests the patience with its stunning lack of depth. I don’t care about the poorly sketched characters because like the game avatars, they are so under-realised.
Trust me: avoid at all costs.