REVIEW: From Story To Characters, ‘Assassin’s Creed’ Misses The Mark

The formula to make a good video game movie still hasn’t been discovered yet.

“Assassin’s Creed,” based on the gaming franchise of the same name, follows the character Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender). After a brief flashback, Lynch’s story starts on death row where he gets lethal injection. Instead of dying, though, Lynch instead wakes up in a scientific facility run by a Templar organization.

Upon waking up, Lynch meets a scientist named Sofia (Marion Cotillard) who’s working for the Templars to discover the location of a precious, world-changing artifact. To do so, she hooks up Lynch to a machine where he can look at and interact with the memories of his ancestor, who was a member of an assassin society.

This adaptation is an interesting case. “Assassin’s Creed” is both overly complex in its technical jargon while also being terribly shallow in terms of its actual story depth. As a result, audiences are treated to a film stuffed with exposition about ancient wars between two organizations and scientific-babble while not being able to care about anything happening on screen.

What’s especially damaging about the film is that almost 50 percent of the picture is spent with characters that are never developed. When Lynch is hooked up to the machine, the film basically becomes a flashback to his Spanish ancestor.

This ancestor gets no real development, the audience doesn’t learn anything about him other than he was an assassin. All the audience gets to see is him going on a mission with other assassins that are also given almost no characterization.

It’s not as if the other half in the present day is much better, though. The film sets up that there are two opposing factions, but hardly ever shows the consequences of their battles or the goals of what they’re trying to accomplish. There’s some background about the artifact having the ability to control free will, but this is never actually shown, so the stakes in this flick feel incredibly low.

The film’s problems, unfortunately, spread to the characters, too. It’s really quite a shame, since the movie included Academy Award winners Jeremy Irons and Marion Cotillard, Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender, Golden Globe nominee Brendan Gleeson and Emmy nominee Michael Kenneth Williams.

All of these talented performers, who do at times try their best to make this work, are given largely nothing to do because of the poor script and underdeveloped story.

For example, Fassbender, who’s one of my favorite actors working today, has to play an awful protagonist. Lynch has such little back story and he has basically no arc throughout the picture. He learns some things about his ancestry and the lore behind this artifact, but there’s nothing about his character that evolves or becomes more interesting.

The same can be said for Cotillard, whose character seems to have very little drive in what she does.

The lack of drive is attributable to most of the characters that show up, though. Across the board, there was a very distinct lack of passion and emotion from everyone. Aside from a few moments here and there, everybody seemed dull.

Even the action featured wasn’t all that impressive. There was some cool choreography, sure, but much of the time it’s hard to see because of the editing. Even during the picture’s climax, there’s nothing iconic or amazing to look at.

This is a flick where nothing went right and one where a person begs for it to be over. It’s not visually stunning, the characters aren’t compelling and the story isn’t engaging. There were things here that really could’ve worked, but as it is, it’s a 1 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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