As a one-time avid gamer, something unfortunately restricted by a lack of free time these days, I have played enough of the seminal Ubisoft series Assassin’s Creed to appreciate how good they are. At their best, they resemble a work of art with beautifully rendered landscapes and game play so fluid it was almost liquid. Moreover, it was a game that felt cinematic. Everything felt vast, impressive and expertly directed with a tremendous sense of care.
When it was announced that Assassin’s Creed would be adapted onto the silver screen carrying over many of the main players of last year’s excellent adaptation of Macbeth (headed up by director Justin Kurzel), I was a little giddy. The trailer promised much, with beautiful cinematography and incredible effects. Plus, a stellar cast of Michael Fassbender, Marian Cottilard, Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Rampling only heightening anticipation.
It is then, so disappointing that the film fails to match those expectations in such a decisive manner, and joins the long list of failed video game adaptations. It isn’t the worst adaptation from console to the big screen by a long shot but that’s a bit like saying Nigel Farage isn’t the worst complete bastard you’ve saw last year, considering his competition across the Atlantic.
The film looks lovely but past that, we’re left with the Da Vinci Code with added Parkour. It’s a film for stupid people dressed up to look intelligent and philosophical.
That’s not to say it will be the worst film we’ll see darken our screens for 2017 by a long shot. There are points where you can see what everyone involved is trying to do, with its aspiration to high concepts such as criticizing organised religion and adopting well-trodden conspiracy theories. In the end, though, its end up as a joyless, silly and rather dull old slog. I would have had more joy watching the paint dry on the redecorated walls of the corporate multiplex I went to see this film in.
The sense of restlessness in the busy audience for the evening viewing was a warning that director Justin Kurzel and company were failing to hit the mark. Around an hour in Fassbender’s convicted criminal and pseudo time-traveler, Callum Lynch asks “What the fuck is going on?” I was asking myself the same question.
The plot however is baffling and bloated and the dialogue is clunkier than a sledgehammer being wielded by an elephant. Many indecipherable exchanges between robotic characters took place which seemed to be a bunch of random words thrown together than being anything meaningful. At some juncture, early in the film, it appeared everybody involved decided to forego any attempts to make itself remotely comprehensible to anyone and just trudge from one beautifully choreographed action scene to the next.
Those scenes are stunning but without any emotional attachment to anyone in this film – as every character become entirely unsympathetic and incredibly annoying within the first hour – they were entirely meaningless and became crushingly boring.
Maybe if Assassin’s Creed was a sequel to another film it would have made some sense but to anyone but the people who made it, its nonsensical tripe. A script that should have been assassinated in its infancy.