A lot of hype was built up for the video game movie spinoff, Assassin’s Creed starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cottilard, and Jeremy Irons. The film’s intent was introduce audiences to the world of the the popular Ubisoft game of the same name which revolves around a science project used to combat violence by subjecting individuals to live out the lives of their ancestors through a device known as the animus. Players of the game go back in time as their character’s ancestor to make discoveries about the past in order to affect the present. Assassin’s Creed follows the journey of Callum Lynch (Fassbender) who experiences the life 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. His mission? To discover the whereabouts of the Apple of Eden which is said to contain the seed of man’s disobedience and the key to free will.
This was the best video game spin-off movie I have ever seen. Unfortunately that doesn’t say much considering the only video game spin-off movie that I have seen is World of Warcraft–which let’s be fair, sucked. The first fifteen to twenty minutes of the movie were pretty promising actually. An air of intrigue, mystery, and visual artistry was predominately present and for those moments I sat up in my seat in anticipation for what was to come. As the movie progressed however I continued to sink lower and lower into my seat until I was almost on the floor.
The primary problem with Assassin’s Creed is that it takes itself far too seriously by dragging the audience through a plot-line belabored with exposition, background, and sub plots that no one really cares to see in a flagship film based off an incredible series of games. What I, and probably most everyone else was expecting was what we experienced in the video games–a historical and fast moving odyssey through time with fascinating characters, high risk-reward stakes, and captivating breathlessness. What’s sad to me about Assassin’s Creed is that it had all those elements, but they were smothered by all of the painstaking details that not only made the movie incredibly boring but also left behind feelings of regret as to what the film could have been. Considering that the focus of the games was the character’s time spent in the animus, the movie takes the opposite focus and makes teases the audience with some footage of the animus while the rest of our time is spent in real life accompanied by Callum and his demons. I honestly don’t understand why–except for the fact that the producers must be wanting to make a saga out of these movies and want to establish the main story-line before they go any farther. Unfortunately I think that this goal may have pursued far too zealously and could have quite possibly slaughtered the franchise fresh out of the womb. It’s a shame really–the movie was well directed and had some awesome casting. I even believe it had a good bit of vision to go off of. But the tragedy of Assassin’s Creed is it attempted to be too great for its own good and as a result became shrouded in lost potential .
Assassin’s Creed also has some philosophical problems that one should avoid lest they be sucked into false thinking. Without giving anything away the first premise of the movie is that violence is hereditary–in other words the reason that criminals are violent is because they have violence in their ancestry. That is a dangerous premise to go off of. It must be understood that our actions as human beings are never to be blamed on circumstance, peer influence, or delusions of the past. As an individual I must understand that I and I alone am responsible for my actions. Should I defer that responsibility to someone else I will stir up spirit of entitlement and ultimately selfishness that will not only dictate my behavior towards others but will also destroy and hinder and self improvement and growth.
The second philosophical problem revolves around the Apple of Eden which is said to contain the seeds of mankind’s disobedience. Not only is this way off base theologically but it also links back to the behavioral psychology pushed in the film’s primary premise. The fruit really had nothing to do with the fall of man. There was nothing magical or inherently powerful about the fruit that changed mankind’s destiny. What destroyed man’s fellowship with God was Adam and Eve’s disobedience. They were responsible for their own decisions and it was their actions alone that brought the curse upon the world. We must be careful when putting an assessment on our environments as the cause for our degradation. We must each be committed to righteousness and goodness despite our circumstances so that we may prevail over them–not use them as a crutch.
Assassin’s Creed could have been a great movie. All the pieces were there. Unfortunately its burdensome story line clogged with sub plots and exposition steps over our expectations to deliver the beginning and the end of a hopeful revival in video game based spin-offs.