Assassin's Creed movie full length review - "Assassin's Creed" is a great action movie
with a preposterous premise.
I use the first paragraph of my reviews to give some information about the movie's background and/or to put it in its historical or cinematic context? to "set the stage", if you will.
For better or worse, there is much stage-setting necessary prior to a discussion of the action-adventure-fantasy "Assassin's Creed" (PG-13, 1:40), but I'll try to be quick about it: According to Christianity, Judaism and Islam, sin entered the world when Adam and Eve, the first two people that God created, disobeyed him by eating a fruit (usually thought of as an apple) from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. / The Knights Templar were a Christian organization which was endorsed by the Catholic Church and which existed for two centuries of the Middle Ages during which time they proved themselves to be skilled fighters in the Crusades and also raised money across Europe for charity, helping to create our modern banking system in the process. / The Spanish Inquisition was Spain's late 15th century version of the larger Inquisition which sought to rid Catholic countries of heretics and their unorthodox religious teachings by using intimidation, torture and execution. / DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is the molecular genetic code which governs the reproduction and development of all living things. Although scientific understanding of molecular biology has expanded greatly since the molecule's discovery in 1869, it is not believed that DNA can carry or transmit memories from previous generations. / "Assassin's Creed" is a multi-platform video game series which debuted in 2007 and inspired a 2016 feature film which brings together all of the religious, political, scientific and cultural history that I have ever-so-briefly touched on in establishing the context needed to understand this movie. / Whew! Got all that? Okay, on to the plot.
In 1492 and in the midst of the Spanish Inquisition, a secret group simply calling themselves "Assassins" have pledged to find the legendary Apple of Eden and keep it away from the Templars. It is believed that the Apple contains "the seed of mankind's first disobedience", or "free will" for short, and the Apple can be used to rid the world of violence. That's what the Assassins want it for anyway, while the Templars want it in order to cement Catholic orthodoxy and ensure the obedience of the masses. Although each group arrogantly believes that it has the solution to what ails mankind and each uses violent methods to achieve their aims, the Assassins are clearly meant to be the heroes (or, at least, the protagonists) of this story (which is original to this movie and only parallels the games). Members of this group pledge their lives to the cause as they recite their creed: "We work in the dark to serve the light. We are Assassins." In 2016 and in the midst of his execution for capital murder, Callum Lynch (Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender) is pronounced dead, but doesn't really die and is taken by Abstergo Industries to their facility in Spain. Cal is told by Abstergo scientist Sophia Rikken (Oscar winner Marion Cotillard) that Cal can have his freedom and a new life if he helps her. Sophia and her father, Abstergo CEO Alan Rikken (Oscar winner Jeremy Irons), need Cal's help to find the Apple of Eden. The reason that Cal has such violent tendencies is that his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha (also played by Fassbender in flashback), was an Assassin and it was he who was last known to be in possession of the Apple ? in Spain ? in 1492.
Sophia hooks Cal up to the Animus, a large machine which can extract ancestral memories from a person's DNA. A steel needle is injected into Cal's neck and a huge crane-like mechanical arm hoists him into the air. As Cal sees visions of what Aguilar experienced, the acrobatic movements of Cal's body mirror those of Aguilar as he runs, climbs, falls, fights, and kills his way to the Apple. We see Cal's visions as flashbacks, as we also see his body being tossed about like that bear did to Leonardo DiCaprio's character in "The Revenant". With each virtual trip back in time, Cal's life and sanity are put at risk, even as he learns more of his ancestor's story? and as those with their own designs for the Apple lie in wait.
"Assassin's Creed" is a great action movie? with a preposterous premise. The visuals are stunning and there's plenty of exciting sequences (most of which were done without the benefit of CGI, instead making liberal use of stuntmen, one of which did a controlled fall of 125 feet ? the biggest for a movie in 35 years)! The script even has some clever and memorable lines of dialog, but its plot is too ridiculous to make any of that to be significant. For one thing, there's simply too much going on. Even with an understanding of everything mentioned in my introduction, the story is hard to follow and the filmmakers' decision to intentionally make all the characters morally ambiguous just muddies the water further. And everything hangs on an odd and complicated blend of religious, historical, scientific and cultural misrepresentations that tarnishes the franchise's brand. Even the presence of award-winning actors (and Fassbender himself serving as a producer) can't keep this movie from assassinating a Movie Fan's hope for quality entertainment. This film is similar to another 2016 cinematic tale of a man hitting rock bottom and then discovering the existence of a world beyond his senses, along with a new purpose for his life? but "Dr. Strange" actually did it well. These Assassins deserve a need creed ? or at least a better movie. "C"