I give up. I fucking give up. I give up the hope that we will ever get a great film adaptation out of a video game. Angry Birds was a boring misfire, and Warcraft was a confused, boring misfire. It doesn’t fucking matter that the original creators of the games are involved in the production of these films. Actually, yes it does, because most failed film and television writers ended up getting picked up by video game companies because they couldn’t find anyone else to write this bullshit. So to expect that Assassin’s Creed would be any different from the usual sludge would just be foolhardy. But apparently, I was mistaken. Apparently my expectations weren’t low enough for this garbage.
I’m going to do my best to recount the plot of this movie, because I couldn’t make heads or tails of this shit (and I played seven of these freaking games). Michael Fassbender plays Callum Lynch, a man condemned to be executed on death row for killing a pimp (put your fucking hand down, they don’t explain why he killed a pimp). Anyways, he’s saved by Marion Cotillard, who fakes his death because she wants to strap him into a machine she created called “the Animus,” a virtual reality device that allows a person to access the memories of a long dead ancestor and reenact key moments of their lives. Cotillard wants to use Lynch for him to live out the memories of his ancestor, Aguilar an assassin living through the Spanish Inquisition, because he was the last person to know where the Apple of Eden was placed. The Apple of Eden controls people’s minds…somehow…through… actually they never use the Apple at all in this movie so an audience member would have no idea what the fuck it does.
Sweet, Merciful, Hoola Hooping Christ this plot is as convoluted as a seventeen car pile up during rush hour traffic and leaked kerosene has set the entire road on freaking fire. This movie isn’t just a failure, it’s a spectacular failure. I don’t need to drag you along with what I thought, you need to know upfront that this movie is a waste of your goddamn time. There is so, SO many reasons why this film cocks up, but I need to organize my thoughts into various categories so I can adequately explain to you why this might make my Worst of the Year list.
The story’s a big, fat, juicy target to pick on first. So this so-called plot involves really two stories: the first involves an “evil” corporation kidnapping people to force them to relive their ancestor’s past just so they can find some ancient artifact that will do something; and the second involves a Spanish assassin trying to save the son of a Sultan to secure said ancient artifact. The two plots do not mesh together at all because you’re not given any time to appreciate the ancestor’s tale. You don’t get to know the ancestor at all as a matter of fact, despite the film trying, in vain, to establish some form of character in these sequences.
But the historical scenes are for one reason and one reason only: deliver action. That’s it. All you’re seeing are a bunch of dudes fighting with swords and daggers while running along rooftops in Spain. There’s no consequence to any of these scenes because you just don’t give a shit about what or why they are doing anything. It’s a frustrating waste of great fight choreography…actually the choreographer got screwed over royal by the director of this mess because all of the fight scenes are shot extremely poorly that I couldn’t tell what the fuck was going on half the time.
Now here’s a cruel twist for all the fans of the Assassin’s Creed games: the majority of this film does not take place in the past, but in the far off future of…2016. Yes, in a movie that lets you tell the story of an ancient assassin running around 1492 Madrid, you instead focus on his clueless descendant. It’s a baffling choice to make for a film because the majority of the action and story of the video games takes place in the historical times. The video games only make a passing mention of some plot in the future because it’s a gimmick to explain what happens when you’re character dies in the game and to give this series some kind of continuity that doesn’t fucking exist.
The future scenes are all trying to hype up the Animus like it’s a big fucking deal. In the video games, the Animus is just a bed. That’s all. The virtual reality simulation of your ancestor’s past was the cool part about it. So for this movie, they turned the Animus into a crane that allows Fassbender to reenact physically all his stunts in both the Spanish era and the modern era at the same time in what the director thought were clever juxtapositioned shots. Here’s a tiny problem with that: it makes the action look sloppy as hell. Your eyes need to get reaquainted with each new environment constantly so you quickly lose track of where your character is running towards and what the hell is he doing. Oh and because this film has zero fucking patience, certain fight scenes are sped up to give you the illusion these actors can move in the blink of an eye, rather than some clever stylistic choice a la 300.
Ultimately the future scenes are boring as shit. Not only is there hardly any action in these scenes, but these scenes are populated by bizarre characters that you don’t know what the hell is happening. A bunch of random characters start speaking in cryptic tones to our hero without directly addressing what the hell they want. It got to the point Michael Fassbender exasperatedly asks out loud “What the fuck is going on” halfway through this movie…and it was almost as if Fassbender as an actor was caught saying that about this clusterfuck of a script. Incidentally, this screenplay is riddled with bizarre choices: odd speech patterns for certain characters; motivations behind other characters are either nebulous or nonexistent; and people ally or double cross each other practically at random. And maybe some of these characters could have been helped if any their respective actors gave an iota of a shit.
So let’s rag on the actors next as the film is trying to sell itself hard based on the cast. Michael Fassbender is fucking atrocious in this. He’s walking around scene to scene with blank stares in his eyes, rarely ever emoting and only serving as a walking plot device. He’s a completely blank cipher with no personality…and oh Jesus, he’s a freaking Hat! Dammit, Fassbender you were better than this! I wanted you to be the next James Bond for God’s sake!
Marion Cotillard is embarrassing herself in this movie, which may be the worst thing I’ve ever seen her act in, and I saw her in Public Enemies. Her character’s motivations are all over the freaking place. At first she seems like she’s a sympathetic character, but she’s also working for the “bad guys” who you never actually see do anything wrong per se. And she makes a bizarre choice towards the end of the film for a completely out of leftfield reason and she vows revenge against someone…even though she’s the reason her problem arose in the first bloody place. Oh yeah, and I couldn’t understand her in several parts of this film. I know Cotillard has a strong accent and it’s part of her appeal, but I’ve been able to understand her in every single movie she’s ever starred in besides this one. So the sound mixing was fucking atrocious in this as all her lines sounded muffled.
Speaking of lines, she says one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen in an adaptation. Skip to the next paragraph if you think I might be spoiling something (and go buy a new window from me if you’re still hellbent on seeing this movie). So Fassbender does something ridiculous in the Animus, but his stunt was essentially something you normally do in the video games called “making a leap of faith.” When Cotillard sees Fassbender pull the move off she says, in reverent tones, “LEAP OF FAITH!” To properly understand how fucking stupid this line is, imagine if in Mortal Kombat the characters announced their fighting move while performing it (like “SPINNING KICK” or “FLAME BREATH”). It’s a goddamn shame they have this woman saying this kind of shit.
So many other top tier actors are embarrassing themselves by appearing in this crap. Jeremy Irons I can understand, but nothing will top Dungeons & Dragons in sheer awfulness so he rarely has to worry about his reputation. But Brendan Gleeson (Mad Eye Moody in Harry Potter) is in this shit! He’s a respected actor from such great flicks like In Bruges and The Guard, why is he slumming it in this? Did he need a new Porsche? Oh and fucking Michael K. Williams is doing…something with his role. I don’t know whether the filmmakers wanted to portray him as someone who lost his mind because of the Animus or is he just the rebellious leader? Fucked if I know, and I have long since ceased to care in the few short hours I saw this miserable pile of crap.
It’s incredible to me with just how much of a mess this movie is. It’s a beautiful mess for you to parse just how many things are wrong with it: the story, the actors, the bad special effects, even the fucking soundtrack shits the floor. After a solid introduction welcoming you to the world of Assassin’s Creed through sitar music, the score changes to a rock power ballad out of freaking nowhere and it never comes back into the movie. It was 100% pointless.
But what makes this movie even more frustrating for me, is that the filmmakers willfully ignored what made the games so very interesting. You were battling real-life historical figures and became allied with famous artists and writers of the time. You were provided with a big universe dealing with the concept of free will vs. control. Of whether God allowed us to have free will or are we meant to subjugate each other through special powers. It’s genuinely interesting material that was completely scrapped to make a mess of a movie.
For wasting my goddamn time, and wasting the talents of several great people, I’m going to give this movie my lowest rating:
FUCK THIS MOVIE