Assassin’s Creed is a good adaptation of a great game, but that doesn’t make it a decent film.
Based on the popular game series of the same name, Assassin’s Creed tells the story of Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) a criminal who finds himself embroiled in the vendetta between the evil Templars and a group called the Assassins.
Using a device called the Animus Callum relives the life of his ancestor Aguilar, an Assassin from 15th century Spain, and tries to find a artefact known as the Apple of Eden before the Templars can use it for evil.
I feel the need to explain before we get into the meat of this review that I have two distinct biases about this movie because as we all know art doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
The first, I’m a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series, not a mega-fan but someone who’s familiar enough with the franchise that I felt comfortable immersing myself in the somewhat heavy cloak of Assassin’s Creed’s lore.
The second bias, and hopefully it will cancel out the first, is that I don’t like video game adaptations. To me movies and video games are distinctly opposing media, like metaphorical oil and water.
One’s passive, the other’s active and that’s why Hollywood’s been banging its head against an unbreakable glass wall desperately trying to successfully adapt literally anything.
All that said I can honestly say that Assassin’s Creed is probably the best adaptation of a video game I’ve seen this year, which is a bit like saying the best holiday I ever went on was to Chernobyl.
Now that’s not to say that this is a great film, it’s just a good adaptation, and it suffers from all the usual bugs we’ve com to expect from this particular genre.
The opening is very clumsy, Star Wars just about gets away with using an opening crawl but it’s a bad sign when a movie starts and I instantly recall this year’s rather woeful Gods of Egypt.
Also the dialogue’s about as subtle as a man in a white cloak wandering through a crowd of people dressed in everything but white.
So where does Assassin’s Creed excel? Well like the games it comes from it’s all about the action, every action scene is pretty impressive and the choice to upgrade the Animus from a chair to a mechanical claw is an interesting one that leads to some unique action.
Fassbender also convinces, physically at least, as an assassin and has clearly put a lot of work into his characters, Aguilar and Callum, both of whom feel distinct enough from each other to carry the film’s frankly nonsensical science.
Fans of the game will get a kick out of seeing some of the series more iconic moments on the big screen as well, including the free fall jump from a cathedral roof which is probably the highlight of the movie.
Ultimately Assassin’s Creed feels an awful lot like the game it’s based on, rough and unpolished but with some impressive action pieces that’ll entertain but not leave a lasting impression.