I can still remember getting the first Assassin’s Creed game for Christmas back in 2007, and I loved it. It was by no means perfect, but as a spiritual successor to the Prince of Persia games (aka sweet historical parkour, which at the time was very cool), and a game that hinted at such a rich mythology, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Things only got better when the sequel came out a few years later, and one nothing I couldn’t stop thinking when I played these games was how great a film about this could be.
Well, it’s taken almost ten years, but Assassin’s Creed has finally made it to the big screen, and with some pedigree behind it. Michael Fassbender is without a doubt one of the best and most diverse actors working today, and a supporting cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, and Brendan Gleeson certainly helps. It’s directed by Justin Kurzel, who seems to be one to watch in terms of up and coming directors, and the developers behind the games, Ubisoft, even created a film production studio to make sure the film was done right. While the games might have been a spiritual successor to Prince of Persia, I was really hoping that the film wouldn’t be.
After supposedly being given the lethal injection, Callum Lynch wakes up to find himself being kept at the leisure of Abstergo Industries. After being repeatedly told that he’s not a prisoner, and he’s there to help bring an end to violence, he’s forced into the Animus, a device that allows you to relive the memories of your ancestors, all as part of a larger search for an ancient artifact. When inside the Animus, Callum sees through the eyes of Aguilar de Nerha, an Assassin who lived in Spain during the 15th century.
Truthfully, I know that Assassin’s Creed isn’t a good film, but as a fan of the franchise, I really enjoyed it. That unfortunately is both this film’s biggest strength, and it’s biggest weakness. Nobody can deny that this film looks wonderful, with the action scenes being up there with the best cinematic historical epics, and the talented cast treating the material with respect. It was also a brave decision to film all of the scenes set in the past in Spanish, and a choice I appreciated.
The biggest problem is that, outside of a few lines of text at the start, Assassin’s Creed makes almost no effort to include people that are unfamiliar with the mythology. As an extension of the already established universe, this film adds a lot, and is a valuable contribution to the lore, but as the start of a new franchise, which this technically is, it fails on almost every level.
I fully appreciate that this is not a good film, because it doesn’t do either what it set out to do, or what it should have done, but I can’t deny the fact that there was enough fan service that I had a good time. There were enough moments that had me smiling, and sometimes even giggling with excitement, as I was finally seeing what I’d pictured for so long. Let me sum it up by saying this: if it would make you happy to see somebody throwing an axe from behind their head with both hands, you’ll probably enjoy this film, if you don’t know what I meant by that, it’s probably not for you.