It’s too elementary and obvious to claim that the shortcomings that exist in Justin Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed merely derive from the simple fact it’s based on a video game. While it can’t be disputed, the track record for triumphant endeavours of such film adaptations is remarkably low, that’s not why this film is such a mess. No, Assassin’s Creed struggles because it’s a disjointed affair, absurd and irreverent without any self-awareness, taking itself far too seriously and lacking that vital injection of adventure.
Michael Fassbender reunites with Kurzel after Macbeth, this time to play Callum Lynch, a convict who has inadvertently become the subject of a revolutionary technological experiment by Abstergo Industries, headed up by Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) and Sofia (Marion Cotillard). The aim is to unlock his genetic memories and allow for him to experience the life of his ancestor Aguilar, in 15th
Aesthetically, Kurzel’s latest is similar to the video game, capturing the essence and nucleus of the incredibly popular franchise that sold hundreds of millions of copies in the past decade. The atmosphere of the piece is the one area this film truly comes into its element, and it’s hardly surprising, as Kurzel has shown with both Snowtown and Macbeth he knows how to craft an indelible mood, and this is no different, with some of the set pieces looking mightily impressive against the sepia-tinged landscape.
The scenes that take place in the 15th century are the more engaging, but regrettably we deviate too carelessly away from such sequences to focus on the present day which simply isn’t as compelling and grows too convoluted in the process. This is indicative of a feature that, while narratively so rich, particularly in the duality of the story-lines, remains frustratingly dull for the most part, as it becomes a real struggle to invest emotionally in this piece and care for the well-being of the protagonists, no matter how accomplished a turn we see from Fassbender.
So while you’re all but set to spend time with your own family over this festive period, on this showing it’s hard to understand why you’d wanna spend it with Fassbender’s ancestors too, no matter how enticing their gatherings may look, particularly when they say stand around in a circle and say in unison, “we work in the dark to serve the light”. Sounds pretty cool, but spare a thought for those of us who indulge in this picture, as we’re sat in the dark, longing for the light.