Movie adaptations of video games are some of the worst films of all time. It’s not because the source material is incompatible with the film medium, but because films do not have the same time a games do, to properly develop characters and push forward convoluted plots.
Asassin’s Creed is – in my point of view – one of the most “doable” of video games in terms of movie adaptations. So it is surprising, to say the least, that this Michael Fassbender-led film failed in the most crucial aspects while delivering one of the most beautiful fight sequences I’ve seen in a movie.
To be fair, the game’s lore is too large and convoluted to accommodate. Which is why the choice of a new character was initially a good idea. But this was wasted by the fumbling of the execution and the attempt to condense stuff that the games took six main entries (plus the spin-offs) to establish.
The movie’s first flaw is the lack of character development. Callum Lynch (Fassbender) is difficult to relate to because despite the short exposition about his childhood, you don’t really know who he is which makes it hard to relate to him.
The movie’s second fatal flaw is the lack of a cohesive plot. The idea is there, the premise is ever present, but the execution is flawed. Not tragically doomed from the start (as some people now believe), but disjointed and lacking in sense.
The movie becomes interesting whenever it goes back to the historical segments. The beauty of the set, the use of Spanish, and the action all take me back to the games. But it – and everything else – gets buried under the lackluster modern day.
In my opinion, the movie could have been so much better if it focused more on the historical bits instead of the modern day. Slowly introduce the casual viewers to the lore without forcing it on them. This is how the first Assassin’s Creed game was done. While the modern day segment is very important, people wouldn’t care about it without the very thing that made the games special in the first place, which is reliving the character’s ancestor’s genetic memory and discovering about the lore through it.
For other positive points (besides the historical bits), I liked the costumes, the props, and the stunts. Yeah, that’s how I imagined a live-action Assassin’s Creed would look like. The movie also featured descendants of characters in the games: Moussa, the descendant of Baptiste from Assassin’s Creed Liberation; Emir, descendant of Yusuf Tazim of Istanbul and a late colleague of Ezio Auditore in Assassin’s Creed Revelations; Nathan, a descendant of Duncan Walpole, the Assassin killed by Edward Kenway in Assassin’s Creed 4; and Lin, the descendant of Shao Jun who was the last Assassin to come into contact with Ezio Auditore as seen in Assassin’s Creed Embers and Chronicles. These characters would have spiced up the movie had it been something worth spicing up to begin with. As with Callum Lynch, you don’t really realize who they were supposed to be because they weren’t introduced properly to begin with.
Then, of course, there were the hidden blades which for me, is the best version so far. And the fight sequences and the parkour.
As a long-time Assassin’s Creed fan, I was hoping this movie will succeed. It is extremely frustrating to see so many elements that could have helped making this the best movie adaptation of a video game franchise simply go to waste because of poor story writing and execution.
It’s there. All of the ingredients were there. But it just wasn’t meant to be. The only good thing this movie has done is to lay the foundation of what could be better movies in the future (but since this movie didn’t exactly turn a profit, I doubt that, but I digress). But if Ubisoft Motion Pictures will just repeat their mistakes in this mess of a movie, I’ll gladly stay desynchronized.
Assassin's Creed has all the elements of a good adaptation. Alas, it wastes everything due to poor story and performances from some of its actors.