Yesterday I went to the cinema again and as Allied did not play at a suitable time, we decided to go to Assassin’s Creed. I had heard a lot about it and most of it was not particularly good. My motto is that you should not always judge a film by its reviews, so I went in with an open mind. However, I soon found out that the reviews did have some merit.
I wasn’t familiar with the story before seeing the film. I only knew of the games because my brother used to play them. As he is very particular about who gets to play on his PS4 (only him), I never played it myself. Which was not a bad thing because now I could see how well the film explained the plot to a noob like me.
They take quite a long time getting to the point. Halfway through the film, I felt like they were still trying to explain what it was about. The way they did that was rather messy. So here is what I understood from the plot as shown by this film.
The story is about two groups who live around 1492, the Assassin’s Creed and the Templar and they both hate each other very much. The Templar want to find the Apple of Eden as it contains the seed of disobedience (or whatever) and by owning it they can eradicate free will. The Assassins seek to protect the apple. Flash forward to 2016. We see a boy named Cal, who finds his mother murdered by his father. He flees because ‘they’ are coming. 30 years later, this same boy is sentenced to death, but rescued by an organisation who fakes his death. He is taken to a facility where they promise to cure him.
Cal is told he is a descendant from Aguilar, a member of the Assassin’s Creed. He is forced into a machine called the Animus in order to retrieve his anchestor’s memories. That way, the nice doctor explains she wants to find the Apple and make all violence in the world disappear. Cal eventually cooperates, as he is promised he will get his life back. But unbeknownst to him and Doctor Rikkin, the Assassins are still very much alive.
So why is it not very good?
I feel like they wanted too much with this film but in reality did too little. While the flashback scenes to the old ages are interesting, well-made and filled with action, the film takes too long to get somewhere. While my boyfriend assured me that in the games you rarely spent time in the now, the film spent most time in 2016. There was way too much explaining going on and the explaining mostly made zero sense. It felt like in the last twenty minutes, the film makers thought to themselves: “Oh shit, we still need to add some action into this in the now.” So the action does happen, but it all happens too quickly and it makes no sense. The Assassins locked into the facility suddenly have all the power to overthrow the whole building. All very cool, but why not do all of that before the Apple was found?
Another thing that made the film rather dull for me was the fact that there was about zero tension. From the get-go it was obvious who the bad guys were. The fact that the main characters did not realise this astounded me, as the only way they could have made it more obvious was by having them wear signs around their necks. Every plot twist was predictable and at some point I just checked the time to see how much longer I had to endure it.
There was not a single characters that I considered to be interesting. The main character, Cal, was basically just a dick the whole time. His development from ‘I want to murder all of you’ to ‘what the hell is going on’ to ‘Ok, the Assassins are real and now I am totally committed to it’ was sudden and unrealistic. The daughter of the foundation’s leader, a scientist wanting to eradicate violence, is your typical naive ‘I want to do good but don’t see I’m being played by my own father’ cliché of a character. Apart from these two, I can’t even remember most of the names of these characters, Especially not of the modern Assassins. There was a guy named Moussa, but the names of the other characters are unknown to me. I just referred to them as the Assassin chick and the pretty guy. The rest of them were even more irrelevant to me. How am I supposed to care about these characters if I don’t even know their names? Would it have hurt to just introduce them for a minute?
My main conclusion is that this should have just remained a video game. During gameplay you have hours to tell a story, especially one that is so complicated (I still have many questions. Like what is the significance of that eagle?). That way, it all makes more sense. Now it felt rushed and just not done well enough. I noticed that they did keep the ending very much open for any sequels, but I wonder if that is something we should want. All in all, I was not impressed. Let video games be video games.