★★★ – “A poorly executed leap of faith.”
Assassin’s Creed is directed by Justin Kurzel and stars Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling.
When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassin’s society.
Does Assassin’s Creed have what it takes to be a great adaption of a beloved video game franchise? Yes. It’s fast-paced, visually satisfying, features a great cast and showcases a huge amount of practical stunt work.
Does it succeed in being a great adaption of a beloved video game franchise? Unfortunately not.
Director Justin Kurzel aims to captivate the viewer with staggering visuals that are blissfully aided by a beautiful backdrop, but an unfortunate misuse of ‘smokey’ ambience covers the picture with an undying darkness.
With 80% of the film being shot in-camera; stunts, locations and all, it angers me that so frequently throughout, we are pulled from Aguilar’s past to be force-fed exterior shots of present-day Cal in the animus, ultimately disjointing the flow of these expertly crafted action sequences, if only to tell us that Cal is still in fact in the animus.
It becomes noticeable around the first half of the running length, that we do not feel or care for our characters, removing what made the video games so vastly enjoyable. This could be due to multiple script rewrites but as ambitious as the film tries to be, it never really builds up anything but the foundation for a possible sequel.
Performances from Cotillard (Sofia) and Irons (Rikkin) are underwhelming. Gleeson (Joseph) looks out of place. Fassbender (Cal/Aguilar) saves his role with an impressive amount of stunt work, of which he actually performed, wearing an eye-pleasing costume which has been wonderfully designed by the hard-working individuals in the costume departments.
A large chunk of the film is shot on-location in Malta and Spain, with incredible set designs and vibrant colour grading, which is something I appreciated and gladly enjoyed. But as aforementioned, the cuts between Aguilar and Cal feel jarring and inconsistent, leading to an unnecessarily difficult watching experience.
The original score by Jed Kurzel feels uninspired. Using repetitive string and brass ‘sweeps’ that occur every time there’s a noticeable change in an action sequence, overall lacking any innovative material.
Though there are some ravishing visuals and magnificent landscapes, the storytelling just doesn’t evolve into anything worthy of praise, and in doing so fails to engross viewers.
Verdict; Huge potential can lead to disappointment, as shown in Kurzel’s ambitious Assassin’s Creed.
Assassin’s Creed – ★★★ (5/10)