It wasn’t Hollywood’s first bad video game adaptation, and it won’t be the last.
To be perfectly honest, I steered well clear of this one when it was released, having long since become incredibly wary of big budget movies based on video games. My issue with them is as much in principle as anything else; there’s no way to distill the experience of a story-driven video game down to a couple of short hours’ worth of film, and the fact that these adaptations consistently flop harder than the guests at Michael Barrymore’s pool parties only seems to prove how irrelevant they are.
That said, the script and the premise behind 2016’s Assassin’s Creed were obviously good enough to get A-listers like Michael Fassbender, Jeremy Irons and Marion Cotillard to sign on, so, upon taking a leap of faith headlong into this failed franchise-starter, I tried to keep an open mind, and actually to found it to be somewhat refreshing.
Assassin’s Creed could have done the obvious, and based itself directly around one of the many stories that make up the ever-growing video game franchise, but instead, it follows a new character in an era as-yet unexplored by the game series, with modern-day segments more closely following the expected Assassin’s Creed narrative.
Objectively, the story wasn’t badly written. Yes, fans of the games might have seen every twist and turn coming a mile off, but as an average movie-goer, there’s a lot to be said for the overall narrative.
Whichever of those two camps you fall into, you can’t deny that it’s a good-looking movie. Drawing inspiration from the games’ presentation, Assassin’s Creed is able to recreate the familiar aesthetic in a satisfying and generally impressive fashion. Its action sequences too evoke their video game counterparts; well-choreographed and flashy without being confusing on the eye.
The problem with Assassin’s Creed? Stated plainly, it’s boring.
Fassbender’s performance is inconsistent at best, and his often-flat delivery of his modern day character’s sparse dialogue hardly makes for someone for the audience to invest in. In fact, possibly the only compelling characters in the entire movie are Aguilar de Nerha (Fassbender) and Maria (Ariane Labed), the two assassins whose story is told in the movie’s animus scenes – and this is largely due to the fact that their story is entirely action-driven.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed was a slight improvement on your average video game adaptation, but unfortunately that’s something of a weighted compliment. It’s unremarkable and uninteresting, but it just about does enough to be watchable, which elevates it above many of its game-adapted contemporaries.
Summary: Assassin’s Creed is an ambitious yet decidedly bland affair. It pulls of its action sequences, but the narrative glue that should hold them together will likely send you to sleep long before the movie’s end.