“You’re about to enter the Animus. What you’re about to see, hear and feel are the memories of your ancestor, who has been dead for five hundred years.”
Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons
Synopsis: Convict Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is plucked from a death sentence by the Abstergo Foundation, a corporation run by the evil Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons), who have created a device known as the Animus under the guidance of Rikkin’s daughter, Sophia (Marion Cotillard). A device which has the power to tap into its users past – in this case, that of Callum Lynch, who’s descended from a long line of Assassins, a Brotherhood sworn to protect the Apple of Eden, a tool powerful enough to remove freedom of choice from humanity. It’s the Apple that Rikkin desires, and it’s the memories of Callum’s ancient Spanish ancestor Aguilar de Nerha that will help him to find it.
If there are three things that the game series that Assassin’s Creed is based on has, without fail, it’s free running, a well-defined historical setting, and a sense of fun. We get free running here…briefly. We get a historical setting…on occasion. But as for the sense of fun? Absolutely not. This is po-faced, dour stuff.
The first game in the franchise put us in the midst of the Third Crusade, the second into the Italian Renaissance, the third in the American Revolution, and the fourth sailing the oceans in the Golden Age of Piracy. The film? Well, that’s set during the Spanish Inquisition, apparently – not that you would know it. Because the time there is brief, and the scope so narrow, that it could essentially be any old time in medieval history. That doesn’t stop these sections from being the best the film has to offer. When we do get to the combat and free running it’s impressively gritty. The visuals are comfortably the biggest selling point here, much as they were in director Justin Kurzel’s previous film, Macbeth. But there just isn’t enough time spent in the past by a long shot.
Rather, the focus is predominately on the present. Which mostly involves Jeremy Irons scowling, Marion Cotillard spouting exposition, and Fassbender frowning…for nearly two hours. On the upside, there are glimmers of goodness that show enough to suggest that there’s a decent Assassin’s Creed movie to be made. On the downside, this really isn’t it.
Rating (out of 5):