“No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.” – Roger Ebert
If we apply Roger Ebert’s dictum to Assassin’s Creed, based very loosely on the video game of the same name, it would have had a running time of 11 minutes rather than the 115 that audiences will endure.
Okay, that’s an extreme overstatement. If you like action sequences there are lots of them and they move at lightning speed. They are well choreographed and fun to experience. But that’s the best that can be said about this movie. While this isn’t one of the best video game movies of all time, it’s a cut above much of that genre. Then again, saying that is truly damning with faint praise.
Michael Fassbender is “Cal Lynch” and it turns out he is a direct descendant of “Aguilar” who was a member of the Assassins, a secret group pledged to fight for peace and free will against the Templars. The Templars seek to control the world’s population by eliminating free will and believe that the Apple of Eden will enable them to achieve their aims. The Assassins have been the guardians of the Apple of Eden for centuries.
Cal is set to be executed for murder but “Sofia Rikkin” (Marion Cotillard) and her father “Alan Rikkin” (Jeremy Irons) have arranged for Cal to survive his lethal injection. He is whisked away to the massive headquarters of Abstergo Industries, which is a part of the modern Templar Order. Sofia’s genius has made it so that by putting Cal into the Animus, a large machine, they can access the memories of Aguilar that are buried in Cal’s DNA. Through this process they hope to locate the Apple of Eden and take it into their possession. If they succeed, they will eradicate free will.
Other descendants of members of the Assassins are being kept where Cal is. One of them turns out to be his father, “Joseph Lynch” (Brendan Gleeson although his son Brian Gleeson plays the younger version of Joseph). The Templars tell Cal things about Joseph designed to engineer conflict between them.
The more time that Cal spends in the Animus experiencing the memories of Aguilar, his ancestor’s incredible combat abilities become a part of him in a unique merging. When the Templars finally learn where the Apple is hidden, the other Assassins stage an escape. The remainder of the film is a race against time as the Assassins must stop the Templars from using the Apple.
Again, the action is the only good part of this film. There are two Academy Award winners (Cotillard and Irons) and two Oscar nominees (Fassbender and Charlotte Rampling) in this movie and their acting abilities are never stretched to any significant degree. The fact that Cal is not a part of the original video game universe doesn’t help matters. If you want drama and story, this is not the movie for you. But if all you want is to see a lot of action, go see Assassin’s Creed.
Our look at the best and worst of video game movies can be found here.