Assassin’s Creed is pure action and historical adventure, providing enjoyment for audiences of different backgrounds, regardless of experience with the video games.
The director, Justin Kurzel, is the same Australian-born filmmaker who was involved with acclaimed titles such as The Snowtown Murders and Macbeth. As such, Kurzel is no stranger when it comes to blending historical fact with fiction.
Based on Ubisoft’s video game series of the same title, Assassin’s Creed follows protagonist Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender), a seemingly indifferent man who is sentenced to death on account of murder.
As Lynch is strapped into a death bed replete with lethal chemicals reserved for criminal offenders, he closes his eyes and awaits his fate. He then finds himself waking up in a mysterious scientific research facility.
Lynch is greeted by Dr. Sofia (Marion Cotillard), who reveals that he is residing within the walls of Abstergo Industries in Madrid, Spain. Dr. Sofia explains that Abstergo Industries is a global corporation that exists for the purpose of research through genetic memories. Lynch is brought to the machine that is key to Abstergo’s research: the Animus.
The Animus is a machine that allows users to relive their ancestors’ memories through genetic DNA. After learning this, Lynch is hooked into the machine, preparations are made and he is mentally transported from Madrid in the year 2016 to Ana Lucia in the year 1492.
Lynch discovers he is in fact a modern day descendent of Aguilar de Nerha (Fassbender), a member of the Assassin Brotherhood of Spain who served during the late 15th century.
Through the Animus, Lynch is able to relive his ancestor’s memories and acquire the same stealth and fighting skills that Nerha had used centuries before him, which prove invaluable assets when he discovers the opposing force he must face: the Templar Order.
The level of efficiency on the part of the actors is good, or at least as good as it can be with two of the cast members taking up most of the spotlight.
Fassbender is able to convey a sense of genuine confusion and initial torment upon realizing his assassin lineage, while simultaneously displaying the true honor and dedication required of an assassin as Nerha.
Similarly, Cotillard exhibits an excellent acting ability as Dr. Sofia, who is torn between her dedication to science and her loyalty to the Animus project.
Decent acting is not the only praiseworthy attribute of this film. The lighting is superb, as the bright white interiors of Lynch’s sleeping quarters, mixed with the darker inner sanctum of Abstergo Industries, certainly conveys the feeling of being confined to a strange facility as a research subject in a laboratory setting.
While the dark, gritty, smoke and sand-filled, war-torn arena of 1492 Ana Lucia transports viewers to a land far away, with the ever-changing sunny sky that mixes with moving clouds to provide dismal overcasts, making for an excellent use of shadow effects.
With any film based on a popular video game series, the most significant aspect of production is the amount of content that is altered as well as the amount that stays true to the original media.
Fans of Assassin’s Creed will be pleased to hear that very little was modified in the transition from game to film. All of the staples of the series that fans have come to expect are included, such as hidden blades, historical detail, parkour and more.
Aside from additional research subjects in Abstergo, a newly-designed Animus and never-before-seen assassin moves, there are very few changes for fans to expect. Assassin’s Creed is a film to see for fans of the franchise, or for those who enjoy action and fantasy films.
Yes, this film is enjoyable even for those that may be unfamiliar with the games, as the story is original, only taking inspiration from the series as a whole, rather than focusing on any one particular entry. For those who intend to see this film always remember the Assassin Oath: “Nothing is True. Everything is Permitted.”
Assassin’s Creed is given a score of 7.5/10, gaining points for keeping most of the core content from the video games, fine use of technology and excellent action sequences, and losing points for slight CGI hiccups and a lack of shining performances, aside from Fassbender and Cotillard.
Assassin’s Creed is rated PG-13 for language and violence.