Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cottiard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael K. Williams, Ariane Labed, Michelle Lin
The original idea of the film came from the video game of the same name, but Director Justin Kurzel wanted writers to come up with a new story that would be less “game-ish” and more suited to cinema. For this, he engaged writers Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, and Bill Collage. To see that action and game fans would not be disappointed in the visuals and special effects, he secured the help of Production Designer Andy Nicholson, Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, Musician Jed Kurzel, and a talented cast, as shown above. In my view, he certainly succeeded in the visual and special effects and in the cast.
The drawback of the production is a rather confusing story that jerks us around in time and space with a host of characters difficult to keep track of. The first scenes are in 1492 in Andalucia, Spain, in which Aguilar de Nerha (Fassbender) is taking the oath of the Assassin’s Creed to protect an apple even unto death against the Templars, who had taken over Spain. Switch to 1986 in Baja, California, where a young boy Cal is told by his father (Gleeson) to run and “keep in the shadows”, hiding from assassins out to kill him like they did his mother. Thirty years later, we see the grown-up Cal (Fassbender) in prison for murder, being visited by a priest, and subsequently being executed and declared dead—when suddenly he is in Spain at Abstergo Industries associated with the Knights Templar Order.
Fassbender, Cottiard, Irons, Gleeson, and Rampling give the film a haunting, mythical quality that keeps the viewer engaged.
He awakens to Dr. Sofia Rikkin (Cottiard) telling him that he will be participating in research with the aim of getting rid of his DNA associated with violence that passes through generations. Yes, he is a descendant of Aguilar. His charge is to go into “Animus” with virtual reality equipment designed to take him back in time (15th Century) and space (Spain) to wrest the apple from the Templars, who now possess it. The apple’s seeds will then be used to rid the world of violence. We watch this happen, and it is truly amazing to see Cal/Aguilar with his partner Maria (Labed) miraculously fighting off hordes of people standing in their way. (I understand Fassbender and Labed did 95% of the fights themselves). And Cal takes more than one trip into Animus trying to retrieve the apple.
Of course, dark forces are at work. It seems that Sofia’s father Alan, CEO of Abstergo has his own plans, and we see him talking with Templar Ellen Kaye (Rampling). The plot thickens as the differences in aims between father and daughter become more apparent. This adds an unnecessary layer to the drama that I think would have been better off omitting.
The strength of this film is actually the video game aspects (and I’m not a video game fan), and less so with the story that becomes weighed down with too many layers and complications. And I’m not even mentioning the layer of current prisoners at the Abstergo Company who play a role in insurrection.
Fassbender, Cottiard, Irons, Gleeson, and Rampling give the film a haunting, mythical quality that keeps the viewer engaged. It’s too bad the story becomes so convoluted they are hung out to dry.
Action and intrigue, but with substance minimized.