We work in the dark to serve the light.
I was, I guess, overly hopeful about this movie. I loved Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth, which came out in 2015; it was a bleak, visionary masterpiece and it even featured, as this movie does, Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard in the lead roles. Assassin’s Creed is a franchise with quite a lot of potential in its central ideas and with this level of talent involved, I kept my hopes up, even after those first couple of awful trailers. And what I got was, yes, I’ll say it, the best video game movie ever; unfortunately, that’s a super-low bar, so the film still isn’t all that great. But it also wasn’t the disaster all the critics and a lot of the audience said it was; it’s a serviceable action-adventure film with some serious flaws. The sequences in the past are atmospheric and feature high-intensity action. The production design on everything from the weapons to the costumes to the tattoos is absolutely great. Ariane Labed is great as a female assassin in the past sequences. You might recognize her from Black Mirror or maybe The Lobster; in one of the weirdest connections ever, she’s actually married to Lobster/Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos. I don’t really go to video game movies expecting to see a fun performance by the wife of one of the great arthouse directors ever, but sometimes the gods smile upon you. The sequences in the present really drag though; they have none of the flash and energy of the past sequences, with far too many hushed conversations about things we don’t care about in rooms we can barely see between actors who deserve better. Charlotte Rampling is in this movie, guys. Charlotte ******* Rampling. Brendan Gleeson is in this movie and gets about the stupidest scene in it. It’s really the script, though Kurzel’s muted direction in the present sequences is also somewhat to blame. I did like the way the film reimagines the Animus as a massive, mobile device, but past that, the present sequences are bland. But the film kept me invested by the insertions of the past stories and a fairly engaged performance by Fassbender. I was entertained by it and I’d actually like to see the franchise continue; maybe next time, they’ll fix the biggest problems with this film. You know, like the games do! Oh . . . wait . . . hmm. I hope the response to this film doesn’t damage Kurzel’s reputation as a director; I’m still excited to see what he does next. Kurzel’s kind of like Fassbender’s character in this movie; there’s hope for the future and a lot of fun in the past, but the present – just okay. 3 stars.
tl;dr – best video game movie ever, but still very flawed; the sequences in the past are wonderful, but the other stuff is dull as dishwater and poorly written; entertaining, but never all that great. 3 stars.