Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed is a film based upon the video game franchise of the same name, starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremey Irons and Michael Kenneth Williams.

I have only played some of the first game, so I went into this with only a slight familiarity.

If you have absolutely no knowledge of the franchise, don't worry! The film is here to treat you like an idiot, and tell you the entire plot to the film via a text crawl at the start!

The plot is that the Templar Knights are searching for "The Apple of Eden", which will allow them to eradicate free will in humanity. The only people who know of this and are trying to stop them are a guild of assassins, imaginatively called "The Assassins"

In modern day, Michael Fassbender is killed by lethal injection, but it turns out that it was faked and that he has been "not imprisoned" by the *mumble* company. I'm sure that the company has a genuine name, but no one in the film can say it clearly.

This company has a device called "The Animus" which allows Fassbender to relive the memories of his ancestor, an assassin who guarded the McGuffin. The Mumble company hopes that through this process, Fassbender will lead them to the free will McGuffin, so that they an eradicate violence from the world.

I think that the general plot of the film is actually very good, with lots of interesting and not-completely-unbelievable ideas to explore.
However, my main problem with the film is the opening text crawl. Had that not been there, the story would have evolved fairly naturally. Cotillard talks about eradicating violence from the world, but there is obviously something sinister and underhanded about the company she works for. This builds, until we see scenes where Irons explains about the McGuffin controlling free will.
This could have been a fairly satisfying reveal - the sense of something sinister building into a climax of moustache-twirling villainy... had it not been for the text crawl explaining it at the start of the film.

That's not to say that's the films only problem:
Towards the beginning there is some strange editing choices, especially one scene where it flips between four or five different shots. About half are in a yellow colour, the other half in teal. Of those, one of the teal and one of the yellow shots are extremely bright (including lens-flare), the others are darker. The shots each last for a bit over a second, but it is very disorientating to switch between drastically different colours and brightness levels, repeatedly.
Normally disorientating the viewer is done in order to distract them from something (hence shaky-cam being used in lots of action films), but this seemed pointless. Even more so because some of the shots were also unnecessary.
It's a bit like Battlefield Earth, which uses dutch-angles all the time without understanding what purpose they serve in film-making.

Also during the first act, some of the stunts characters perform are CGI, but it's almost unnoticeable. In a way that's not a good thing, as it creates a little sense that something is wrong, but it was better than normal.
What is fair less forgivable is quite a few shots in the same action scene which are meant to be quick (e.g. riding a horse full-pelt to catch up with a speeding wagon) are quite obviously much slower, and then sped up to give the illusion of speed. Which they fail at. Completely.

My final major complaint is that, in order to service sequel-baiting, a character does a complete 180 degree turn at the very end. The change in attitude is not built up to or earned in the slightest.


I did enjoy myself, and I think there is a very decent sci-fi film in there, but unfortunately it's book-ended by sections with complete and utter contempt for the audience, ridiculous ineptitude at film-editing, and a distinct lack of ability at convincing writing.

Forced to give a score, about 6/10

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