PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Convicted criminal Callum Lynch is rescued from his own execution by Abstergo Industries, the modern-day incarnation of the Templar Order, and learns that they are searching for the Apple of Eden, which seeded the first sin, in order to subjugate the human race and end its perceived corruption. The company’s head scientist, Dr. Sophia Rikkin, reveals that Callum is a descendant of Aguilar de Nerha, a member of a secret order of assassins that for centuries have opposed the Templar Order, and conscripts him to the Animus Project, in which Callum is connected to a machine that allows him to revive Aguilar’s memories so Abstergo can learn the current whereabouts of the Apple of Eden.
In Spain, 1492, Aguilar and his partner Maria are deployed to rescue Prince Ahmed de Granada, who has been kidnapped by the leader of the Templars, Tomas de Torquemada, to coerce Prince Ahmed’s father, Sultan Muhammad XII, to surrender the Apple of Eden. Aguilar and Maria intercept the chariot transporting Ahmed, but are then ambushed and captured by Torquemada’s enforcer, Ojeda, just as Callum is pulled out of the Animus by Sophia.
In captivity, Callum befriends other descendants of assassins, led by Moussa, and begins experiencing hallucinations of both Aguilar and his own father, Joseph Lynch, who murdered Callum’s mother while in assassin attire. Callum and Sophia build a rapport over their sessions, in which Sophia reveals herself as the daughter of Abstergo’s CEO Alan Rikkin, and confides with Callum that her mother was likewise murdered by an assassin.
Back in the Animus, Aguilar and Maria are scheduled for execution, but manage to escape, leading to a rooftop chase in which Aguilar performs a Leap of Faith, causing the Animus to malfunction. Callum is then extracted and placed back in captivity, where he learns from Joseph that his and Aguilar’s memories are merging, allowing Callum to tap into Aguilar’s combat abilities, and that Callum’s mother was an assassin and chose to die by Joseph’s hand rather than be subjected to the Animus by the Templars. Meanwhile, Alan is pressured by his superior Ellen Kaye to shut down the Animus Project due to its lack of results, leading Sophia to realize Alan cares more about the eradication of the assassins than using the Apple of Eden to rid the world of violence.
Callum is placed in the Animus once again, whereupon Aguilar and Maria ambush a meeting between Muhammad and Ojeda to exchange Ahmed for the Apple of Eden, killing the Templars and retrieving the Apple of Eden. Ojeda captures Maria to force Aguilar to surrender it, but Maria chooses death and Ojeda fatally stabs her before Aguilar kills him. He then hides the Apple of Eden in the tomb of Christopher Columbus, where it is found by Abstergo. Rikkin and his followers then converge on a Templar sanctuary in London to perform a ritual to harness its powers.
Having assimilated all of Aguilar’s memories and abilities, Callum manages to escape and rallies Moussa and the other descendants to stop the Templars. They attack the sanctuary and Callum comes across Sophia, who has grown disillusioned with the Templars and reluctantly allows them to act. Callum confronts Rikkin and is forced to kill him to retrieve the Apple of Eden, whereupon the assassins depart, vowing to once again protect it. Horrified by her father’s death, Sophia vows revenge upon Callum.
One of my favorite video game franchises is Assassins Creed, so you can just about imagine how excited I was when this project was announced a few years back. As the years went on, I patiently waited, noting every bit of news that came out and now it is finally here. Was the wait worth it? Does it live up to the esteemed franchise? Is this the first good video game movie since Mortal Kombat? Let’s find out, shall we?
What is this about?
Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.
What did I like?
Source material. With Ubisoft, the company behind the Assassins franchise behind this film, it should come as no surprise that the filmmakers adheres very closely to the source material. Not only do we get the basic plot from the games, but easter eggs later on in the film, and a film that judging by the first glance, feels like the game has come to life on the big screen!
Action. If there was something this game had to get right, it was the action. Anyone that has played these games has no doubt spent hours climbing buildings, fighting armies of guards, jumping off rooftops, etc. The filmmakers bring all that to life and then some, though, I argue it could have been more. Still, it was great to see they chose to give us some true assassin action and impressive parkour, things that the franchise is known for having.
Be your own man. I must applaud the choice to not go with Altaïr, Ezio, Edward, or any of the well-known assassins from the game. We’ve come to know these characters as one way in the games, seeing them portrayed differently would likely cause major waves in the internet troll community (as most everything does). I don’t have much to say about Callum Lynch, though, I’m afraid. Perhaps if the planned trilogy goes through and we get to know him better I can comment on his characteristics and such.
What didn’t I like?
No one wants your present. The worst part about playing the AC games is having to play the present day stuff. This stuff, with the exception of the original and maybe the following couple of sequels, is just useless prattle meant to drag out the time spent playing the game. Not really sure why they couldn’t just come up with more missions, rather than forcing us to spend time paying as the most uninteresting man in the world, Desmond Miles. Seriously, who puts in an Assassins Creed game to play in modern day?!? No one! We play these games to go hopping around bygone eras like Renaissance Italy or France during the Revolution. The same strategy applies to this film. 2/3 of it was spent in present day whereas the flashes to the past should have been the focal point, and the present day…well, that train wreck should have been seen as little as possible.
Confusion. One of the most confusing plot devices of the film is the Apple of Eden. Now, it needs to be understood, it took the at least 3 or 4 games to fully explain and develop this thing to the point that we, the player/audience knew what the hell was going on with this seeming unstoppable force, and I’m still not sure I fully got it. That being said, you can’t force that into a 2hr film, and it not be the major plot point, rather than just a device. More time needed to be spent explaining about the Apple, rather than a few mentions here and there followed by Jeremy Irons’ character doing something with it that looked like it would have been bad news for everyone, had that last event not happened (trying to not play spoiler).
You have failed this city. In the final scenes, we see Michael Fassbender’s character take on the skill and characteristics of his ancestor in the present day. Somehow this translates to him thinking he is Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow. Furthering this idea is the fact that he spends most of the film with no shirt on (enjoy ladies!) and, as the inmates escape Abstergo, he grabs a bow and arrow and starts shooting. I half expected him to put on a mask and start barking orders to everyone in a gravely voice, much like Amell does in Arrow.
Final verdict on Assassin’s Creed? There is good, there is bad, and there is ugly. This film has all three at varying points of its runtime. As I was telling the guy sitting next to me after the film ended, this film just took the worst parts of the game and forced it down our throats. That said, this is not without redeeming qualities. It is obvious they want to build a franchise out of this and I’m all for it, but they need to listen to what people want to see and not assume they know what we want to see or the studio will end up losing money. As long as they were working on the film, there is no reason it shouldn’t have been a total blockbuster smash, perhaps even rivaling Rogue One. Instead, we get a film that tried to be the next great video game movie, perhaps coming closer than most, but didn’t make it. My goodness, even with the game studio behind it, it couldn’t be done. *SIGH* So, do I recommend this? Believe it or not, yes I do. I think this is a film that needs to be seen twice, especially for fans of the game. Once, to just watch the film and a second viewing to bitch and moan about all of the things that are wrong with it. No need to rush out and see it, but check it out when you get the chance!
3 out of 5 stars