Historically speaking (pun intended) video games whose stories have been adapted into movies have never faired well in the box offices, with Mortal Kombat and Tomb Raider being the most successful but not necessarily critically acclaimed. So, when news broke that Ubisoft was going to make a movie based around their biggest selling game franchise, the fandom’s general censuses was ‘’high hopes, low expectations’’.
The big question was would Assassin’s Creed be the exception to the rule and break free of the stigma of video game movies. As a long time fan of the Creed I was determined to find out. Having played every AC title for the Ps3, from the original game with Altair, through the Ezio trilogy, the Kenway saga and (my personal favourite) Liberation, and now to find out if the movie stacks up.
First sign that things were looking up for the film was casting Michael Fassbender as the lead role, in fact the Fass does a double performance as modern day assassin Callum Lynch and his ancestor Aguilar. To make it even more impressive, Cal spars with a vision of Aguilar when he’s going through the Bleeding effect.
Sorry, I must have jumped ahead there, explanation: the central Mcguffin in the Assassin’s Creed story is a machine called the Animus (any Carl Jung buffs in the audience?) which allows a person to relive the memories and experiences of their ancestors. The games employ this to a metafictional level, in which you are playing a man who is in essence playing simulation of another man’s life. The aforementioned Bleeding affect is when a person starts to experience hallucinations and visions from their time in the Animus even after they’ve been unhooked ( if that isn’t a metaphor for game addiction then I don’t know what is. Again, metafiction).
In the present day Cal is a prisoner of Abstergo, which is the modern day face of the Assassin’s greatest enemies the Knights Templar who seek to, you guessed it, take over the world( Of course!( this joke is a reference to the Street Fighter movie btw). To do so Alan Rikkin, played by the ever reliable villain role Jeremy Irons, seeks to use Cal to locate an artefact called the Apple of Eden, which ‘’hold the seeds of man’s first disobedience’’ and thus force the world into submission by removing our free will. What a charming fellow.
Rikkens’s daughter Sophia played by Marion Cotillard is Cal’s handler and the two have some chemistry with Sophia primarily there to humanize the Templars as she is the only person to care about Cal as a person.
Cal’s ancestor Aguilar is an Assassin active in Spain during the infamous Inquisition in protection of the Apple and of Sultan Muhammad XII and he must save the Sultan’s on from Templars and make certain the Apple doesn’t fall into templar hands. The action sequences are pure 100% AC baller, straight from the video games, visceral visual effects with Assassins fighting and running over and through rooftops with epic Parkour stunts and agility with energy left to kick Templar ass.
In conclusion, as a long time fan of Assassin’s Creed how do I feel about the movie? It does what it sets out to do: tell a story and get people interested, admittedly Callum’s story fells very similar to Desmond’s in the first game but that’s probably because the Templar’s don’t learn from their mistakes and you know what they say about history repeating itself. However the cursed history of video game movies doesn’t seem to plague this adaption, and with news of there being a Last of Us movie on the horizon, perhaps game developers should take a page from Ubisoft, and take a Leap of Faith.
If you want more Assassin goodness, play the games or check out the official comic book series, it’s an excellent read, but don’t take my word alone for it after all…
…Nothing Is True…
By Daniel Murphy