It’s probably a surprise to no one that Assassin’s Creed (based on a very good series of games) was…well, “meh” is really the best word for it. It had some great action and some very nice visuals, but that’s about the best that can be said for it.
It’s a bit of a shame, because the cast—Marion Cotillard, Michael Fassbender, Charlotte Rampling, Jeremy Irons, and Brendan Gleeson, to name a few—is a very solid one, and you’d expect them to be able to give their characters a bit more depth. But, sadly, there’s nothing really there to work with, so while they do a fair job with what they’ve been given, the end result is still flat.
The plot was interesting, to be sure. It’s set in the same world of the video games: there are two factions, the Knights Templar and the Assassins, and each is trying to prevent the other from finding a particular artifact called the Apple that holds the key to free will (yes, really). There is a massive corporation called Abstergo that has developed a piece of technology called the Animus, which allows them to put a person into it and have them relive the lives of their ancestors through genetic memory.
However, the story itself is a unique one, with our main character being Callum and his ancestor, Aguilar. Thanks to the Animus, there are two different storylines going: one with Callum in modern day, interspersed with him reliving his ancestor’s life in Spain during the Inquisition.
I did enjoy the parts of the movie set in the past, with Aguilar and Maria, one of his fellow Assassins, fighting to protect the Prince of Granada. Obviously this was where most of the fight/parkour scenes were, which were the most interesting parts of the movie. And the Animus itself was very cool.
However, whenever the story jumped back to the present day, it felt like everything ground to a halt. There was very little about Callum to interest me; I’ve seen Fassbender play a similar character much better with Erik Lensherr/Magneto in the X-Men movies. And really, when will movies start giving characters a motivation that isn’t a dead mother/wife/daughter?
The movie did hold a couple of pleasant surprises. One: there was no romance between Callum and Sophia, which is where it felt like it was going at times. Two: Essie Davis, who I fell in love with thanks to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, played Callum’s mother. And three: two characters that I fully expected to die during the final fight actually survived to the end of the film.
But really, the rest of it can just be summed up as a shrug emoji. Yes, it was a fun, mindless way to spend a couple of hours after the holidays, but I’m also very glad I didn’t spend more than matinee price on going.