Assassin’s Creed movie cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Micheal Kenneth Williams
Assassin’s Creed movie director: Justin Kerzel
There is something to be said about a movie plot where a creed linked to the “heretics” a.k.a Arabs, living in the new Christian order being established by the Templars, is the keeper of mankind’s “free will”. This Assassin’s Creed comes to humanity’s rescue against the Templars, who believe man doesn’t want civil liberties anymore, but personal conveniences and that freedom has never been less desired by the world.
However, don’t get your hopes up. That’s where all those interesting ideas stop and a film looking to cash in on a successful video game franchise and to launching one of its own, takes over. Science is roped in to search for the ‘Apple of Eden’, as it holds the clues to “man’s first disobedience”. A serious scientist always dressed in warm turtlenecks, Alan Raikkin (Jeremy Irons), and his even more serious scientist daughter always in open-necked comfortable greys, Sophia (Marion Cotillard), believe that the apple holds the answers to ending aggression, and “curing people of violence”. That the money for this exercise comes from the Templars, whose members go dressed about in cloaks and hoods, doesn’t raise any suspicion in Sophia, though she apparently has her concerns.
Callum (Michael Fassbender) is among those violent sorts who has been roped in for their experiments by the Raikkins. Apparently, all people indulging in murders and such like could also belong to the Assassin’s Creed and hence be genetically tapped into for clues to their ancestors — via a Transformer-like machine invented by Sophia that is optimistically called Animus. One of those ancestors could then presumably lead to the apple. In Callum, they hit jackpot as his ancestor was Aguilar, who in 1492, during the Spanish Inquisitions, is believed to have last had the apple. Callum falls into the Raikkins’ hands after being officially executed by the authorities for a murder.
Assassin’s Creed shuffles back and forth between the sepia-hued, dust-covered, and the guilt-free video-game inspired universe of Spain of the 15th century, and modern-day Madrid which we see nothing of except the concrete behemoth that the Raikkins run. At their ‘Abstergo Foundation’, the inmates hear constant messages over the public address system such as “progress is sacrifice”, “in quality, there is peace”, while men in black holding batons guard locked doors. You get the picture.
There are a few moments where Callum questions Abstergo’s methods “towards world peace”, given how people like him are used and discarded – though well fed, as the film curiously takes a pause to emphasise – but these are never taken to any serious conclusion. The film seems to believe that having men and women stand around in contemplative silence looking at glass walls is enough by way of intellectual curiosity. Is that the price Irons, Rampling and even a swiftly discarded Brendan Gleeson demanded for lending their thespian heft to the venture?
The fighting scenes can be impressive though, and one shot of Aguilar and his equally competent fellow-‘assassin’, a beautiful woman who never gets a name, traipsing over clotheslines while ducking deadly arrows must make even God smile, at how humankind believes He works.
The dialogues can be funny. Just watch how Sophia exclaims, in a quiet whisper, always through perfectly painted red lips, “Leap of faith!”. To be clear, Aguilar has just jumped into water, which he does a lot of, none of which evinces a similar exclamation from Sophia. But then, at the other end of that particular jump lies “Christopher Columbus”. Yes, that’s right. Finally, a Spaniard of 15th century we know, heading out you know for the New World, or if you like, the ‘free world’.
And, here is another “fact”. Addressing what suspiciously looks like the United Nations, Alan Raikkin puts “the economic impact of anti-social behaviour last year” at “9 trillion dollars”. Know a few people who could do with such convenient economics?