Assassin’s Creed
dir Justin Kurzel
scr Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
prd Frank Marshall, Arnon Milchan, Michael Fassbender, Jean-Julien Baronnet, Patrick Crowley, Gerard Guillemot
with Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael K Williams, Denis Menochet, Ariane Labed, Khalid Abdalla, Essie Davis, Matias Varela, Callum Turner
release US 21.Dec.16, UK 1.Jan.17
16/UK Regency 1h55
Assassin's Creed
Plugged in: Fassbender

cotillard irons rampling
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Assassin's Creed There's no reason why movies based on videogames need to be terrible, but most of them are. Basically, all that's needed is to write a proper screenplay with characters and a plot that utilises logic and coherence. This over-serious movie is jarringly disjointed, assaulting the audience with explanations of its frankly ludicrous mythology and never making much of most characters.

After being executed in a Texas prison, Cal (Fassbender) wakes up in a fortress overlooking Madrid, told by Doctor Sofia (Cotillard) that he holds the secret to bringing peace to mankind. A robotic arm taps into his genetic memory, sending him back to his ancestor Aguilar (also Fassbender) in 15th century Spain. Sofia and her father Rikkin (Irons) want him to find out where Aguilar hid the Apple of Eden, which controls humanity's free will. But Cal is the last in a line of assassins dedicated to protecting the apple from Knights Templar like Rikkin.

This premise is explained over and over, and yet it never quite holds water or explains anything that happens on-screen. Every sequence is punctuated by a whizzy action sequence consisting of a massively violent hand-to-hand battle followed by some vertiginous parkour. With its dual timelines, the movie feels like a science fiction thriller mashed up with medieval fantasy horror. But since no screen-time is given to establishing the characters, there's no reason why any of this needs to happen.

Aside from Cal, played with some panache by Fassbender, none of the other characters really register. Cotillard emotes and broods, while Irons brings some oomph to his shifty role, but neither can sell the silly dialog. Rampling somehow manages to maintain her dignity as the Knights' Grand Poobah or something, but she's utterly wasted. Gleeson has a couple of nice moments as Cal's shell-shocked dad. And Williams provides some grit as a fellow assassin trapped in Rikkin's ancient/futuristic fortress.

Director Kurzel gives the film an eye-catching sheen, even if the goal seems to be to look cool regardless of practicality. So everyone strikes seriously picturesque poses in settings that look like immaculately designed movie sets. But without even a hint of earthy humour, everything feels artificial. And without any story or character development, it's impossible to know which of these glowering killers we should be rooting for. Yes, this is yet another movie with plenty of artistry in desperate search of a script.

cert 12 themes, language, strong violence 20.Dec.16

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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall