Assassin’s Creed: Most Sane Video Game Movie

Film Review |By Christian Tesfaye - Exclusive to Fortune

I am not a fan of video games nor do I consider it a sport. This is the most sane video game movie in the history of cinema. And although I do not think Assassin's Creed was such a bad film. I agree that this is by far the most sane video game movie ever to grace the screen in the entire history of cinema. Six out of 10 Stars

I am not a big fan of video games. I am also not one of those people that consider them an art form or a type of sport. Nonetheless, I do enjoy the occasional mindless guilt trip into virtual recreation. Call of Duty is probably my favorite; the first three instalments revolve around WWII and boast impressive historical accuracy coupled with scenic excitement.

The recent segments of the game franchise subtitled Modern Warfare – are mostly fictional and contain fantastic stories full of betrayal and intrigue. Other people prefer Assassin’s Creed, a game that is largely about climbing, jumping and occasionally falling.

As its name suggests, it is about an assassin, in olden times, but not quite. A criminal, of modern times, who has been sentenced to the chair, is instead sent back in time into the body of an ancestor who resided in Spain, during the infamous Spanish Inquisition. The film adaptation follows along the same lines. Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) has killed a pimp, is found guilty and is to be executed. Only he is not.

He finds himself in some type of sanctuary, resembling an asylum, owned by a mysterious company by the name of Abstergo. The place is ran by Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) and his daughter Sophia (Marion Cotillard), who promise Lynch that he is here to be cured of his violent, aggressive urges.

How do they hope to do this?

It is actually pretty easy. During the Spanish Inquisition, where the Templar Order reigned supreme, and Christianity was trying to squeeze away dissidence, an artifact was said to exist. This artifact would provide the genetic code, within the human DNA, of free will. They believe that if they excised free will from the human mind, they could remove violence. But they simply cannot get to the artifact, all thanks to the Assassin’s Creed.

The Assassin’s Creed exists to protect free will from all those that try to subjugate it. They “serve in the dark to protect the light.” One member of the creed, Aguilar de Nerha, finally s ucceeds in hiding the artifact from the Templar Order for half a millennium. But the Order never gives up. They still exist, now in the form of the Abstergo foundation.

What they have done is create a machine called the Animus. The Animus can recreate events that took place centuries ago. There is just one glitch – to recreate the story of any one ancient individual, a blood ancestor is needed. Now enter Lynch, who is a direct descendent of Nerha.

Using the Animus, the father and daughter Templar devotees try to learn where Nerha hid the artifact. But the plan spills tricky as Lynch seems to be terribly disposed to freely will. But is free will just a genetic code somewhere in our DNA, which if removed will end up turning its host into a robot or a zombie? I believe in science, so I think this is a possibility. There is a chemical composition in our brains for all types of emotions, memories and even maybe free will.

Nonetheless, the depth and sturdiness of one person’s free will would surely differ from that of another. The structure of Friedrich Nietzsche’s genetic code must obviously be far different and complicated to remove than that of a person who thinks individual freedom is overrated. Somewhere in the movie, Rikkin (the father) explains that the Templar Order has tried to control free will for centuries, sometimes with the use of religion, other times with politics and recently with consumerism. All failed, he explains and now they should try science. But why bother? Social Media will do the job, by relieving us of facts, reason and finally free will. Assassin’s Creed is directed by Justin Kurzel.

Kurzel, Fassbender and Cotillard all worked on 2015’s Macbeth. How the trio mustered the energy to go from an adaptation of a Shakespeare play to that of a video game is beyond me. But it must have worked to their advantage, as Kurzel has gotten better at exploiting Fassbender and Cotillard’s best moments.

Sadly, there really are not that many great scenes to exploit, and not only because the previous movie was an adaptation of one of the greatest plays ever put to the stage, but because Assassin’s Creed has more to offer to a stuntman than an actor. Rounding off the cast are the likes of Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling and Michael K. Williams.

Irons, a fantastic Shakespearean stage actor, would have been far better suited in Kurzel’s previous movie. The very gifted Rampling gets very little screen time and Williams, whose performance in HBO’s The Wire as the fantastic Omar Little is duly noted, gets some good lines.

The action sequences are adequate; some that take place during the first act resemble that of Mad Max: Fury Road in utilization of slow motion and quick cutting. I do not fault Kurzel for trying to imitate George Miller, but in Assassin’s Creed the sequences look a little amateurish and insincere. Luckily, the very loud and very intense score by Jed Kurzel (the director’s brother) shrouds most deficiencies.

Critics have been very negative towards the movie, most have noted that this was best video game adaptation ever made.

And although I do not think Assassin’s Creed was such a bad film, I agree that this is by far the most sane video game movie to ever grace the screen in the entire history of cinema.

By Christian Tesfaye
Special to Fortune

Published on Jan 10,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 871]



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