‘Assassin’s Creed’ (2016) – Making The Wrong Kind Of Killing

Assassin's-Creed

Let’s be real: movies based on video games suck. A common explanation for these adaptations’ failure is a lack of similarity or respect to the source material. Assassin’s Creed takes the unorthodox route, and shows exactly how a movie chained to its video game predecessor would really fare.

Based on Ubisoft’s video game series of the same name, Assassin’s Creed follows death row inmate Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) when Abstergo Industries forces him to face his past. Now strapped to the Animus machine, Callum relives his ancestor’s life, (the assassin Aguilar) to find the key to free will itself – the Apple Of Eden. As Callum gets closer to the Apple, so do the rivaling forces of the Assassins and Templars, and he must decide which side of the eternal war he belongs to.

Having never played the Assassin’s Creed video games, I watched this movie with few expectations. But since I do enjoy playing video games and watching movies, Assassin’s Creed surprised me by doing what these entertainment mediums are not supposed to be: bore the fuck out of me.

Assassins On A Loop

On paper, Assassin’s Creed had everything going for it: A multi-million Dollar budget, an all-star cast, and Ubisoft’s involvement. But staying true to the subgenre of films based on video games, Assassin’s Creed squanders what it had and screwed it all up.

Despite having a strong cast, Assassin’s Creed wastes talented names such as Marion Cottiliard  (as Sofia) and Jeremy Irons (as Rikki) on a weak script that has more mysterious exposition than human dialogue. It seemed as if the actors didn’t know what to do with their brain-dead roles, so they just floated through their scenes in the hopes of earning that paycheck. Granted, Assassin’s Creed has to maintain a sense of intrigue, but it came to a point when 30 minutes of dialogue has passed but nothing still makes sense. Characters repeat vague threats and ramble about motivations as if to intimidate, but only confuse the hell out of Cal and the viewers, by extension.

In fact, the writing is so repetitive that the movie begins thrice, introducing Michael Fassbender’s character three different times in the opening minutes. Being the great actor he is, Fassbender gives it his all, but even his acting caliber couldn’t salvage a script that didn’t know what it wants to do with Callum. To say that the ex-con’s transformation from mindless pawn to captain of his fate is jarring would be too nice, since the change in mindset happens abruptly after Rikki gives him a stern scolding.

If Assassin’s Creed were to be judged on looks alone, it would win awards if even just for its costumed actors who look like they came right out of the game and history itself. But the issues with Assassin’s Creed go deeper than actors who didn’t know what to do, but with a movie that just didn’t know what the fuck it wanted to be.

Putting The Ass In “Assassin”

Assassin’s Creed deserves praise for looking great. The Assassin’s Creed games love period settings, and the movie does this aspect justice. The Spanish Inquisition is brought to life in its fanatical beauty, complete with dusty landscapes and the ashes of burning heretics.

At least that’s the case, when the movie actually showed the fucking time period.

Assassin’s Creed takes assassinations for granted and instead, favors focusing on redtape. Majority of Assassin’s Creed takes place in Abstergo Industries, where exposition takes center stage. This may have been necessary to build the setting, but when a movie was advertised to be action-oriented actually has more lectures than killing, it’s obvious that someone’s priorities got lost in the shuffle. Even worse, what little assassinating occurs is bland at best. The parkour is impressive, but the actual killings are as hard-hitting as a slap to the wrist.

This creates an identity crisis, since Assassin’s Creed couldn’t choose between being a grounded Science-Fiction movie, or a fictional period piece. Individually, both stories work. One features a different and appropriately modern take on time travel, while the other offers a more kinetic and mystical interpretation of history. Combining the two, on the other hand, muddles the story’s priorities and results in clashing, polarizing tones.

Worst of all, Assassin’s Creed meanders and stalls for time, resulting in too much padding and a whole lot of boredom. There may be many dialogue-driven scenes, but nothing really important or compelling is said by any of the cardboard cutouts walking around in hoodies. Plot points and personal motivations that were said earlier are repeated as if to drive in something important, when it’s really the movie’s way of slapping audiences silly to keep them awake for the ongoing drag that is the hunt for the Apple of Eden.

A Leap Into Mediocrity

With how low the bar is set, movies based on games can only go up. Assassin’s Creed was an ambitious gamble, and should be commended for giving its all and exerting the effort to give fans the movie that they deserve. Assassin’s Creed delivers by looking like the big-scale historical fiction, Science-Fiction espionage epic its games offer fans. But as a movie, Assassin’s Creed trips more than it kills.

Buried under flat acting, poor writing, some shoddy visual effects like smoke that obscured everything, fucking horrid pacing, and an overall forgettable experience is a creative idea that was muddled by too many flaws that dulled what should have been an excitingly murderous trip through time. Assassin’s Creed centers on a fight for human life itself, but the movie has no life of its own to speak of.

Assassin’s Creed may be a lifeless bore, but it’s comparatively better than most of its contemporaries. But given how majority of video game-based movies are either laughable messes or outright cinematic clusterfucks, that’s not saying much. Gamers and movie buffs alike deserve an adaptation that does justice to a popular game, and Assassin’s Creed may have accidentally assassinated any hope for this niche subgenre.


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