I’ve spent the last year & a half getting to know the Assassin’s Creed games through my boyfriend playing them, as well as attempting to play them myself (I’m terrible, I just get lost & decide to go site seeing in whatever city it’s set it). So when the announcement came that they were making a film it was exciting & a little worrying; then the trailer came & it looked really, really good & the excitement properly grew.
When it was finally released at the end of 2016 for the US, critics ripped it to shreds & I was so let down – my boyfriend’s birthday was a couple of days after the release so that was going to be one of his birthday treats & I didn’t want his day ruined by his favourite game being destroyed in front of him. But we went anyway & I just prayed that we would like it – & we did.
It’s the second film featuring the trio behind 2015’s Macbeth: actors Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard, with Justin Kurzel as director. It’s not often that a critically acclaimed team is behind a franchise film, even less so for a video game adaptation; but it’s an incredible pairing to really make the film gorgeous.
Obviously based on the infamous video games, the film revolves around an original story featuring a new character using the Animus to relive his Assassin ancestor’s memories. The objective of the story is new; the plot follows Cal, a troubled guy on death row as he works for the company Abstergo to help them find an item only his ancestor knew where placed. He utilises the Animus, a machine featured in the games that enables people to relive their ancestor’s memories, & in the process learns more about his lineage to the Assassin’s & how he fits in with them.
Michael Fassbender is Cal Lynch, a troubled man on death row. He’s also Aguilar, an Assassin from 15th Century Spain. Apparently the makeup to differentiate the two is minimal so I’m in huge admiration of Fassbender for so excellently playing the separate parts that it’s difficult to remember they’re played by the same actor. Each is so different, but so similar, & the elegance & intricacy that Fassbender portrays that with is second to none.
Marion Cotillard is Sofia, a scientist who has dedicated her life to the project. She’s resilient & determined, self assured & a little naive in the purpose of her work. Cotillard plays her with the same intrigue that she brings to every role – you want to know more about her, but she’s so mysterious & multi-layered that it’s impossible to fully understand her. The actress also spoke out about her involvement with creating the character with writers to fully do her justice, & due to that you can really tell how she becomes the character.
Greek actress Ariane Labed is Marie, Aguilar’s other half as an Assassin duo & I am in love with her. She is so badass & cool, with amazing stunts & incredible fight scenes. She is the other half to the main character, who would not be there without her. Labed plays her beautifully, displaying her deadliness & power without reducing her femininity.
Oh my GOD I want to be her.
The billing also includes Jeremy Irons as company founder & father to Sofia, as well as Charlotte Rampling as the elder above Irons’ character. It goes without saying that both are incredible actors, but it does feel like either their talents weren’t utilised enough, or that they were just thrown in the mix to hype up the film. I think it was probably the latter; the parts are so uninspiring that they could have been portrayed by any actor with the same effect.
In terms of script, the story is okay & the writing isn’t mind blowing, but it’s not cheesy or awful either. In all honesty, the parts that make this film good are only the ones set in the past following Aguilar. Whilst jumping between the past & present works really well in the video game throughout about fifteen hours of gameplay, it doesn’t need to be done so much in a two hour film. The majority of the film should have been focused on just Aguilar & Marie being badass, with present day scenes just to set it up. Because whenever they’re not on screen, you’re just counting down to when you’ll see that again.
I also love how the flashbacks were shot in the Spanish language too. I’m so glad that they didn’t do the classic Hollywood of pretending that everyone has only ever spoken English because the Spanish added such a richness & beauty to it that makes it feel really special. I know in the games, everything is in English due to the Animus’s ‘translating’ it for the player, but to have the live action in the authentic language made it seem that more real so I think fans will be anything but disappointed.
Fassbender & Labed’s chemistry as an Assassin duo is incredible – most brilliantly seen in their fight scenes. The action sequences are what really bring this film to life because they are pulse racing & awe inspiring. The actors apparently did ninety five percent of the fights in the film themselves, & you can really see the dedication they put into it.
The real gem of the film is the cinematography & the editing. Director Kurzel didn’t want his take on the video games to feel like a superhero film & instead wanted to embrace “what it is to be human”. He achieved this by almost abandoning CGI totally, & shooting eighty percent of the film on camera; that includes locations, stunts, extras & practical effects. The film features the highest free fall by a stuntman in almost thirty five years – Damien Walters performs a free fall from thirty eight meters (!!!). It’s these practical effects & parkour-like stunt scenes that make the film as realistic & exciting as the games, & makes the film tangible & involving.
It’s all gorgeously shot too, with amazingly well done cinematography showing the beauty in every single shot. It’s rare that a first film based on a franchise can feel so technically outstanding but that’s what Kurzel brought to it.
The costume is incredible. With the games having such recognisable & beloved costumes the live action ones had the potential to be a let down, but the costume department really excelled here. Each Assassins costume took three months to make by hand, with an entire costume team devoted to each of the Assassins, each with eight versions of their own individual costume. The work & craftsmanship that has gone into creating these costumes undeniably paid off to truly make the games come to life.
I really enjoyed it! It’s not about to win any awards but it was really exciting & gave you the same feeling as the games do. For fans of the game, I think you’ll like it too. It could have been even better by adding more references to the original game – even Sofia just mentioning a character’s name would have been succifiant enough to excite everyone. Even though it is a new story, it does feel exactly like Assassin’s Creed come to life.
Assassin’s Creed is in cinemas worldwide.