Assassin's Creed is the latest franchise to try their hand at adapting a video game into a Movie. I went into this movie with very high hopes, as I am a huge fan of the games. The games are RPG and very story reliant, which I thought would make the adaptation into a movie an easier transition than an Angry Birds movie or a Mortal Kombat movie. Unfortunately, once again, we are let down with another average video game movie that leaves much to be desired. In Assassin's Creed, every triumph is accompanied by an even larger letdown. For every moment of exhilaration is a moment of extreme boredom or stupidity. Somewhere in the editing room there is probably a really good cut of this movie, but, unfortunately, we were not left with that version.
The basic premise of the movie follows in line with that of the video games. The main character Callum, played by Michael Fassbender, is a part of a long line of Assassins, who swear their life away to protect ancient artifacts full of immense power away from the Templars. The main character gets captured by the Templar, and they use a machine called the Animus to retrace the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and find the Apple of Eden. This artificat contains the genetic code for free will, and in the Templar's hands, would be used to eradicate free will from humanity.
This premise comes chock full of potential, and this is evident in the sparing moments of redemption that kept me locked in as a viewer. In the flashbacks where we follow Aguilar and his band of Assassins on their pursuit for the Apple of Eden we get moment after moment of gripping action and tension. Undoubtedly, the movies greatest strength was in the action sequences. The scenes shifted seamlessly from present day Callum mimicking the moves of his ancestor Aguilar to the past real action that led to the safe keeping of the Apple of Eden. This action was beautifully choreographed to capture the movements that defined the video games, and still give minor updates to better fit the film.
Another redeeming quality of the movie was the performances by the actors. Michael Fassbender once again delivers a great performance, even with a mostly shallow character to portray. At this point, I am almost positive you could give Fassbender any role, and he would deliver it to perfection. The same goes for Jeremy Irons and Marion Cottilard, who offer great performances with awfully shallow characters that they are left to work with.
These strong performances get wasted by a plot that focuses to much on the present day affairs, and not enough in the much more interesting tails of the past. In the Abstergo building, where we see the majority of the film take place, the film moves at a monotonous pace that makes the viewer desperate for something to draw them out of this lull. The story and corruption of the Abstergo company, which is really a modern day Templar Order, were simply not interesting enough to keep the viewers attention.
My biggest issue with this movie came in the last couple minutes of the movie, where the filmmakers just could not help themselves from making one of the worst and most shortsighted sins a filmmaker can commit. Instead of focusing on creating one, concise story that could have possibly ended in a way that would redeem the shortcomings of the film, they went the route of setting up a sequel. We do not get a resolution to the issue of the keepers of the Apple of Eden, and instead are told to tune in next time, for a sequel that will all but likely never happen. What they failed to realize that in setting up for a sequel, you need to first create a movie good enough to draw viewers interest, and then build off of this stepping stone into creating a franchise. Creating a half-baked film that is mostly a snooze-fest, while you focus more heavily on setting up the next movie is the exact reason that the sequel will most likely never come.
In sum, Assassin's Creed does not solve the mystery of how to make a good video game movie. The film struggles to find its footing, and middles between two timelines, focusing to heavily on the less interesting of the two. The seeds of a good movie are present, however, not capitalized on, and we are left still waiting for that one defining video game movie to enjoy.