I recently(ish) watched the Assassin’s Creed movie on Netflix. As a big fan of the video games I was eager to see how it worked on-screen and the result was…ok. I’ve read a lot of very negative reviews and I don’t think it deserves all the flack it got but despite a lot of positive elements and strong performances it just didn’t quite resonate as it should have.
The story starts with Callum Lynch, a death row inmate who is subjected to lethal injection and wakes up in an Abstergo Industries facility. He is greeted by scientist Sofia Rikkin and put into the Animus, a machine which allows him to live the memories of his ancestor Aguilar.
Aguilar is sent on a mission, during the Spanish Inquisition, to protect a Prince. The Prince’s father has hidden the Apple and artifact of value to the Templars, the mortal enemies of the Assassins. Slowly as he is put into the Animus Callum gains not only the memories but also the abilities of his ancestor and begins to question his loyalties.
What’s good then?
The action scenes are phenomenal and I would recommend watching the movie just to see Aguilar and his partner Maria in action. The fluid movement is like an amped up version of the game and made me ashamed of the bumbling idiot I turned Ezio into so often. The action is also very true to the game with the characters performing hidden-blade assassinations, acrobatic combat and leaps of faith which looked incredible and more importantly fit into the action of the movie without feeling like fan service.
How does it connect to the games? (Skip to next section to avoid SPOILERS)
Simple answer – it doesn’t. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the film should stand on it’s own feet. However I was hoping that the inclusion of Alan Rikkin, the elusive chairman of Abstergo, would make some clear connections to the games, but the movie gradually makes it clear that it belongs in it’s own timeline.
I’ll try to break down the two key differences that separate the film and the games. First is the Animus, which instead of being a bed involves a mechanical arm suspended from the ceiling making the use replicate the movements of his ancestor exactly. Sofia states that this is the only model and was designed by her so no grumpy Warren Vidic!!
Next is the Apple. There is a possibility the Templars could be lying but they strongly suggest they don’t know the origins of the Apple and there’s certainly no mention of Those Who Came Before or any other Pieces of Eden. Understandably bringing in a human precursor race might have been a bit much for a movie-going audience but the lack of origin for the device felt a bit odd when we know so much in the games.
Other than that it does follow a broad brush stroke similarities with the Templars warring against the Assassins for centuries and the Assassins having experienced a recent purge, leaving their influence diminished.
So what went wrong then? (SPOILERS END)
Often with films it’s hard to nail down quite what’s missing but here’s what I think could have improved the movie.
Firstly more Aguilar. As I said the action sequences were phenomenal and his journey was really interesting but towards the end it just felt rushed so they could trigger a final sequence in the modern day world.
The ending itself seemed confused, with the Templar’s overall plot unclear, Sofia’s motivations kept changing and the open ending felt too abrupt. It’s hard to say more without spoiling the film but I would say the final act felt rushed in lots of ways and that was they key letdown of the movie who’s first two acts were solid.
That said the film definitely feels like Assassin’s Creed so if you’re prepared for a bit of a bump at the end I’d say still strap in and enjoy the ride!