Assassin’s Creed is an average effort that had the potential to be much more

Published: December 28, 2016
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For those that are unfamiliar with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, it is about a shady corporate company known as Abstergo Industries. PHOTO: IMDb

This December came with the release of Assassin’s Creed, a movie based on the videogame franchise and series of the same name. This feature film is directed by Justin Kurzel and casts Michael Fassbender as the lead protagonist. The movie chronicles the path being traversed by two assassins, both of whom are played by Fassbender. 

One of the assassins is named Aguilar de Nerha, based during the Spanish inquisition in the 15th century, while his far-off and distant progeny is Callum Lynch from the present time. Callum is a convicted prisoner sentenced to death and gets sent back in time through Animus when Abstergo Industries find out via his DNA that his descendants belonged to the illusive group known as the Assassins.

Michael Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed (2016).
Photo: IMDb

When it comes to the videogame’s legacy, it’s an endearing one, culminating well over nine video games and 17 spin-off titles coupled with novels and comics. However, the movie does not seem to carry any remnants of the widely popular videogame icon, and hence is a let-down and a missed opportunity.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, it is about a shady corporate company behemoth known as Abstergo Industries which has access to a machine named ‘Animus’. If someone gets attached to it, he/she has the capability to relive and re-experience memories of their ancestors, and in this case, they are always assassins. To put it under perspective, ‘Assassins’ are an elite secretive faction known to fight the malevolent ‘Templars’ for centuries. Think of ‘Animus’ as a Virtual Reality (VR) machine but much more realistic and fluid, giving the user a visceral experience.

As far as the movie is concerned, it starts in 1492 in the Spanish region of Andalucía. The central premise revolves around an object known as ‘Apple of Eden’ which is believed to encompass the genetic code to man’s free will. Those who possess this said Apple will be able to control and manipulate freedom of thought and is being hunted by the Knights Templar. It is up to the Assassins to make sure that that does not happen at any cost.

Michael Kenneth Williams and Michael Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed (2016).
Photo: IMDb

Those who followed the videogame series will be disappointed to know that the movie does not reprise any of the central protagonists from the game series; there is no Desmond Miles, Ezio Auditore da Firenze or Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad. The new protagonist, Aguilar played by Fassbender, was custom-developed for this movie.

As far as the movie’s impression is concerned with respect to the original videogame, the director was successful. The Spanish Inquisition coupled with that era’s architecture, clothing style, and scenic yet grandiose buildings are all meticulously demonstrated during the movie, so much so that it oozes authenticity.

When it comes to the action sequences and various fights, they are stylised and choreographed rather well. From the franchise’s signature ‘Leap of Faith’ to various stealth moves and gravity-inducing leaps, they are all present in a way that pays tribute to where they originated from (the videogame series). Hence, fans will be pleased to see this Hollywood recreation.

The real problem of the movie is the constant shifting between the two parallel points in time as it makes the experience a tad docile. Anyone that has ever played the Assassin’s Creed game is well aware of the fact that the present-day parts of the game are the most boring and that same feeling regrettably gets carried into the movie as well. The director should have known better and kept the majority portion of the movie from the 15th century timeline as it was the most absorbing and entertaining, and kept the audience wanting more of such scenes.

Marion Cotillard in Assassin’s Creed (2016).
Photo: IMDb

Speaking of the actors, Fassbender seems perfectly at home with his depiction of the main character. One could say, he is the saving grace for this movie. He is enduring and adept during the entirety of this feature film.

The rest of the cast is decent as well; Jeremy Irons and the French actress Marion Cotillard, in particular, give an authentic performance, and stay true to the subject matter inspired from the game series.

Jeremy Irons in Assassin’s Creed (2016).
Photo: IMDb

It has been a tradition lately that almost every videogame adaptation from Hollywood has been mediocre, and despite trying very hard, this movie falls under the same category. Perhaps if the movie had been set in a more interesting premise that stayed true to the videogame, it could have fostered a different result. Case in point, Assassin’s Creed 1: Third Crusade in 1191 and Assassin’s Creed 2, which was based during the renaissance in Italy in the 15th and early 16th century.

It would have been an enjoyable experience to watch the exploits of the much loved videogame protagonists such as Altair or Ezio.

Michael Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed (2016).
Photo: IMDb

Not many people are aware that the word “Assassin” originates from the Arabic word Hashashin and ‎was used for Nizari Ismailis and their secret order during the medieval times. Assassin’s Creed 1 portrays this in great detail. The experience would have been more engrossing if this was witnessed in the movie, but sadly, the movie did not comply.

In conclusion, this movie delivers action and dramatised scenes that get lost between a cluttered story and hence lacks substance to engage the audience. Fans of the videogame series and casual movie goers will find this movie average because it’s just that, an average effort that could have been much more. It had the potential to break the mould and set a precedent for videogame adaptations, but disappointingly, it hasn’t.

Salman Junejo

Salman Junejo

The author is an agriculturist by profession and runs an agriculture company by the name of GRJ AGRO(www,grjagro.com). He has a family background in politics and agriculture. He tweets @salmanjunejo (twitter.com/salmanjunejo)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Samiha Rajper

    The author is most probably a fan of the assassin’s creed games either way he has written a good blog ive seen this movie and i think it was enjoyable boring yes but mostly an enjoyable filmRecommend

  • Sonia Shahjahan

    I had good hopes from this movie because the trailer preview but sadly this review tells a different tale…. :/Recommend

  • Haider Muneem

    christian bale would have fit this role fassbender so does not !!Recommend

  • Taimur Saleh

    The writer is right. This movie should have been based upon the video gamesRecommend

  • Shahida Darakshan

    good analytical reviewRecommend

  • Behlul Tirmizi

    Movie was too short only 1 hour 41 mins and not proper story line along with abrupt ending.. my money was wasted!Recommend

  • Mariman Hamza

    No it was not it was boring and not to mention so much confusing I left in the middleRecommend

  • Fateh Muneeb

    This movie should not have been made ubisoft is milking the franchise they should stick with making gamesRecommend

  • Takseen Hashim

    What amazes me is that they have chosen to ignore pretty good stories from the game series and create their own boring one and made a movie out of itRecommend

  • Shaila Abbas

    It’s a passable and one time watch and forget movie at bestRecommend

  • SP

    Those who have not played the games will obviously find the plot a bit confusing.Recommend

  • Farzana Jahanzeb

    do not waste your hard earned money and go see it in cinemas, wait and catch it on tv or on dvd soonRecommend

  • Nagina Hai

    Fassbender is old, they should have added some young actor like Chris PrattRecommend

  • Emmad Khawja

    They’re making a sequel; let’s hope that it’s better than this movie.Recommend

  • Mariman Hamza

    I have played this game on Playstation. Movie is way boring despite being familiar with the gamesRecommend

  • Hira Baig

    They are also making a movie adaption of Lara Croft again and it turned out okay. This will too in time….Recommend

  • Haleem Lateefullah

    Trailers are suppose to hype the movies no matter how bad they are … that is the whole point won’t you agree ????Recommend

  • Mehrab Rashdi

    true wait for 2017 there are some good blockbuster movies coming soonRecommend

  • Fatima Vohra

    Saw this movie and was confused the ending is pretty terribleRecommend

  • Momal Ali Halepoto

    Writer of this article is very right this movie should have shown the franchise’s muslim heritageRecommend

  • Hameed Jahangir

    It looks like a mix of 3 different categories of movies take a bit of action and drama and mystical things….. blah blahRecommend

  • Afzal Kareemdad

    Average movie wasted a good cast namely Micheal Fassbender and Jeremy IronsRecommend