Opinion: “Assassin’s Creed” (2016)

Assassin’s Creed was a film that I hoped would be good. It had Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons…: an all-around amazing cast. Not only that but also the director sparked some hope. The year prior to Assassin’s Creed Justin Kurzel made the cinematic artwork called Macbeth, also starring Fassbender and Cotillard. And since the combination of those two actors and that director worked out that well, I was hoping for a similar outcome for this film. Unfortunately, that was just me hoping. When the critics rolled in, I lost that hope and didn’t go see it in the theaters.
Last week though, on my way back from holiday I was able to see the film on a tiny screen in the airplane. Not that that aspect bettered the viewing experience, but it certainly didn’t mask the quality of the product that I was watching. And the quality of said product wasn’t that great.

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Michael Fassbender and Ariane Labed in “Assassin’s Creed” – 2016

The film’s actually very faithful to its source material, the well-known game series; we get to see parts from two places in time. Present day, where Michael Fassbender’s character is given the death sentence, but when he isn’t supposed to wake up again, he does, this time in Abstergo. In present day he is used as a medium to view the memories of his ancestor to search for the Apple of Eden. mv5bmtu2mjc1ody2ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwntmzmtyzmdi-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Those memories are the parts that take place in the past, obviously. During the bits in the past, we get to relive the story of Aguilar, Cal’s ancestor, which is filled to the brim with action scenes.  Just like in the games. What they nailed to portray were the parts in the present day, because just like in the games, these were extremely boring. Not a lot of interesting things were going on over there plus there was a ton of exposition. It’s a shame that we spent more time in the present day than we do in the past. Not that that is such a shame because the past isn’t that good either.
At least it’s more interesting and action filled, but there’s a catch: those action scenes weren’t that great. They were really well choreographed and performed, but we didn’t get to see a lot of that, since they decided to film each fighting sequence from three-hundred-fifty-eight different angles and cut every millisecond, to create “tension”. The only thing that it created was a headache as I was trying to follow what was going on. This was very disappointing because in Macbeth the action scenes where the gorgeous. Yes, they were also edited in a rapid pace, but there were slow-motion shots interwoven in them and they weren’t constant shaky cam, they were relatively easy to follow, whereas here you could try to do so, but wouldn’t really get a result.  The action sequences are also not that violent, which is kind of stupid. It’s a film about assassins. Assassins. Do I have to explain their profession? If you’ve played the games you know that they’re pretty gruesome, yet here we don’t even see one spatter of blood exiting the wound, except for a few times, but at those times there’s not enough blood shown in comparison to what the wound would cause in reality. Someone’ throat is literally cut and no blood at all sprouts out of this freshly made laceration. It would’ve been awesome to see an R-rated version of this, yet they only care for the box office and that’s why we received a pg-13 incarnation of what could’ve been a tad bit better.

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Michael Fassbender in “Assassin’s Creed” – 2016

The acting is also very underwhelming. But that isn’t the actors their fault; they just didn’t have a lot to do something with. The characters were all very flat and underdeveloped, which made the actors basically portray themselves. There was no meat to any of them and that too made the scenes set in present day more boring than they already were. They did try to give Fassbender’s character a bit of a background, but it felt like the retelling of something we’ve seen a million times before. That obviously didn’t add anything to the character.

The story itself is unnecessarily complex and stupid in the end. This is solely the story in present day though. In the past, it’s incoherent and messy. Those two things are not necessarily things that would make the movie better than it is. But I didn’t only bother myself on the story. The film explains itself too much, but not the things that need explanation. They, for example, do not explain how the Animus works in this film. I get that if it was something straightforward, which it, in this case, wasn’t. In the games it’s pretty simple: you lay down in a special thingy and they’re able to view the past of your ancestors. Here, however, you are connected Matrix-style and also suspended by a crane-like thing, which shows in the present day the actions that your ancestor did in the past. While Justin Kruzel did use this creatively by editing it within the actions scenes in the past (something I found to be cool, but it would have been cooler if they did this, plus slowed down editing), it did not make a lot of sense how this would work. Let me explain myself further. Imagine Michael Fassbender climbing a very high tower, which is higher than the room where the Animus is located, would he after a while just start climbing while hanging still? Or what would happen? We’ve seen Fassbender climb in present day and he was going up, so what would happen if he reached the limit? If he were to run into a straight line, would he after a while start running in place? It’s a stupid, yet cool aspect of the film.

That’s where I’m going to leave this review. Here’s just a little conclusion: in the end, Assassin’s Creed was a disappointment. The directing was sloppy, the actions scenes showed potential but were ruined by bad editing, even the stellar cast was disappointing. and the story itself is unnecessarily complex. That’s why this movie barely gets a C-.

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