Review: Assassin’s Creed (2016)

Making a film based on  a beloved computer game with millions of true fans and players is a high risk. Not only can you manage to make a bad film but, with this type of genre, you can build a rebellious uproar against you, to the extent of killing your career.

When Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender) wakes after being executed, he is officially dead. Unofficially he is in Madrid, held as kind of lab rat by scientist Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) who matched his DNA with his ancestor Aguilar, an assassin in 15th century Spain. Through a revolutionary technology called the „Animus“, genetic memories are accessed which is what Rikkin needs to save humanity from violence.

Based on a video game which cleverly marries the historic Knights Templar and Assassins (drawn from the Hashashins of Nizari Islam) who’s ideologies actually were quite opposite, and adding a heighten fantasy of these two groups being opponents, Assassin’s Creed is filled with action sequences, that make you want to hit the gym as soon as you leave the theater. The detail of sets, props and costumes are breathtaking and so well executed, that you very well feel like you have traveled in time. Director Justin Kurzel actually states that a lot of research has gone into the whole setting of the film and that extra work really pays off. Another beautiful detail is the language barrier. The 15th century Spanish characters actually do speak Spanish and they just subtitle it, which might not be to the liking of many, but feels like a beautiful choice, giving the film even more a feeling of historic accuracy. The film has a lot of potential, is entertaining, interesting and just beautiful to watch. Sadly the eye for detail seems to have taken over leaving the plot and dialogue to hang out in the dry. The story is there and on a level it is satisfying, but the moment you take a closer look it seems to fall apart. Important details are missing, as if they were lost on the way or had to be left out for the movie not to become a three hour affair. (And the obvious feeling of Assassin’s Creed II happening hasn’t left me, ever since I left the theater.)Character motivations seem to lack or develop in an unusual pace. You loose them at some point, as if , like a mother from her newborn, the emotional attachment got simply cut away. And not only emotionally something doesn’t feel connected. On a dialogue level as well something went wrong. Characters seem to try too hard, suddenly appear sarcastic and it’s as if someone had the brilliant idea of trying Deadpool sarcasm but didn’t stick with it. („Where does the aggression come from?“ „I am an aggressive person.“)

Michael Fassbender does get away with it most of the time. He physically and also emotionally does his character justice, while Marion Cotillard…well, let’s just say this is definitely not her finest work. Don’t get me wrong she is a beautiful actress, but something about her playing Sofia Rikkin just doesn’t feel right. Charlotte Rampling’s role is in too little of scenes to judge fairly, but what you see is great. And Jeremy Irons…well he’s Jeremy Irons. ;)

Like any great movie, or video game, the Assassin’s Creed soundtrack hits all the right spots and sometimes, it even feels like without it, the movie would have most likely fallen apart. Composer Jed Kurzel, brother of director Justin Kurzel, definitely didn’t get this project just because of family ties. He delivered! The soundtrack was simply epic and will definitely play on my Spotify for the weeks to come.

The conclusion: Assassin’s Creed is an entertaining, interesting and visually beautiful movie to watch. If you can overlook small flaws in the detail of plot and dialogue, you are in for a treat.

 

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