First time director Justin Kurzel does a good job of building on the DNA of the video game franchise, but loses the makings of a good film along the way.
Justin Kurzel has done his research, this is clear right from the beginning of Assassin’s Creed, it can be seen in everything from the opening, to scene to the composition of shots, to the design of costumes and props and all the tiny little details that litter the film from beginning to end. This is perhaps the strongest part of Assassin’s Creed’s construction: the attention it pays to the source materal and the inventive ways it adapts that source material to the screen.
But whilst this film does a good job of bringing characteristics of the game to the screen the big thing that feels lacking here is a new, and, more importantly, a good story. Assassin’s Creed attempts to tell a story in one movie that was previously told in 2-3 games. The problem here is that vital parts of the story don’t get the development they deserve and as a result conflicts, tensions and relationships don’t feel fully formed. This leads to the main story of the film being bloated and too shallow all at the same time. It’s clear that there is a much deeper story to be told here (think The Da Vinci Code crossed with The Matrix) but the narrative on offer is forgettable at best.
Visually the film is inconsistent. On one hand it looks beautifully similar to an Assassin’s Creed game, the film manages to capture the white, sterile environments of the Abstergo Corporation, the tiny lines of detail on props and costumes and even the blocky, float-y modern architecture from the games portrayal of the present. But at the same time the film is incredibly dark, far more dark than it needs to be. It’s as if the film was shot beautifully but on the wrong camera settings, so the audience is left watching a film where the art direction and production design are fantastic, but the actual watching of it is underwhelming.
For the most part Assassin’s Creed is unimpressive, it’s visuals are well made but often feel washed out or bland, it’s story line, save for the small touches of fan service, is unimpressive. the acting on show is mostly fine but there’s little in the script for the cast to work with (Cotillard is bland as a vehicle for a corporation and Fassbender is either spitting out dialogue or grunting.) But the film deserves some major praise for taking risks in it’s adaptation of the source material. Things like the films Animus have clearly been given care and attention in being brought to the screen and a major chunk of the films dialogue is delivered with subtitles. Whilst these risks advance a mostly boring plot Kurzel deserves praise for putting a level of effort and risk in to a film of this size.
Ultimately Assassin’s Creed is a film for Assassin’s Creed fans, if you like the franchise you won’t need introducing to it and you’ll be able to appreciate the deeper level of story telling and film making taking place here. Unfortunately that won’t make the paper thin story any better or any less shallow by the time the credits role, but it might make it a more enjoyable few hours none the less.
Assassin’s Creed scored: 6.7/10