Sunday, December 25, 2016

Assassin's Creed

Movie Name: Assassin's Creed
Year of Release: 2016
Director: Justin Kurzel
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Kenneth Williams, Denis Menochet, Ariane Labed, Essie Davis, Javier Gutierrez, Carlos Bardem, Hovik Keuchkerian
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
View Trailer Here

Director Justin Kurzel and actors Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are back in another collaboration, following last year's "Macbeth", which was met with really good reviews. This time around they are involved in the adaptation of the video game "Assassin's Creed", which has been around since 2007 and has enjoyed a long life with multiple sequels and offshoots. The film introduces us to the Assassins, a secret order who has existed for centuries, and has battled the Templars who are intent on possessing the Apple (the Apple of Eden), a device that allows to control all free will. The film focuses specifically on Callum Lynch, a convicted criminal, who is rescued from certain death, by a modern incarnation of the Templars, who are intent on retrieving the Apple, using a special device that allows for people with the same genetic code to relive their past experiences. This machine, named the Animus, takes Callum all the way back to Spain in 1492, where he gets to experience the events of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha, who was also trying to prevent the Templars of seizing the device and subjugate the human race. As Callum further goes back in time, he also starts realizing how his ancestor had an impact on all his life, including the life and choices of his parents. This awakening sets him on a mission to destroy all that the Templars are intent on doing.
Justin Kurzel is a very talented director, with a distinct point of view and a style and aesthetic that are quite distinct. That was on display in "Macbeth", and is again one of the stronger points of "Assassin's Creed". For all the polish and incredible talent, both in front and behind the cameras, the screenplay and screen story are however too simplistic and ultimately unsatisfying to really justify the existence of this film. The central character never really exists beyond the quick premise, and how it suddenly finds itself at the hands of the Templars. Michael Fassbender is a fantastic actor, but he is expected to go from nearly dead, to salvaged and experiencing memories of an ancestor, without much aftermath or even understanding of the consequences of his actions (he apparently killed a "pimp" and that's how he found himself on death row). There's a lack of context to most characters, which is really puzzling, considering this film tries to be the introduction to this universe (there are good examples of how characters are introduced in this type of fantastic universe, case in point, Scott Derrickson's successful "Doctor Strange" adaptation). This is a film that misses the mark in creating characters that are alluring and enthralling - making a film that is visually stunning, isn't enough to give it a pulse or register with the audience. This is a sad disappointment, and here's hoping if indeed there is a sequel, it gets a much better screenplay.