— -- Rated PG-13
Starring Michael Fassbender
One and a half out of five stars
“Assassin’s Creed,” based on the hit video game series of the same name, is the most stylized terrible film I’ve ever seen.
It’s got Michael Fassbender, one of the world’s great film actors and a two-time Oscar nominee. It’s got Marion Cotillard, an Oscar winner and one of the world’s greatest film actresses. And it’s got Oscar winner Jeremy Irons, along with a supporting cast of terrific actors, all of whom must have signed on to do this movie without reading the script.
Fassbender is Cal Lynch, who as a young man may or may not have witnessed his father murder his mother. Fast-forward to adult Cal, who’s on death row and whom we watch as he’s executed via lethal injection. Then cut to ... some sort of medical facility or hospital room, where Sofia (Cotillard) greets Cal, telling him that he’s actually alive but the rest of the world thinks he’s dead.
Sofia has been researching how to get rid of man’s impulse toward violence. To further her research, she needs to hook up Cal to a piece of technology called the animus, which reads the history embedded in a person’s DNA and then forces that person to relive and participate in an ancestor’s history. It’s like a jacked-up Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
In Cal’s case, the animus takes him to 1492 Spain, where, for all intents and purposes, he becomes his ancestor — an assassin named Aguilar. He and his fellow assassins are the guardians of the Apple of Eden, a thing that will unlock the secrets of free will — I think. I’m not really sure. All I know is Sofia and her dad (Jeremy Irons) need that apple, because it turns out they’re Templars, and the Templars are the sworn enemies of the Assassin’s Creed, dontcha know!
In the filmmakers’ defense, there’s decent fight choreography here and stunning CGI. What there isn’t is much of a story. That’s because character development is integral to a good story, and the character development here mostly involves lots of emoting and preening. It’s all fun to look at, but there’s nothing that will make you care about the characters or really make you want to see things through to the climax, which feels completely emotionally detached from the rest of the picture.
“Assassin’s Creed” is easily the worst movie Fassbender and Cotillard have ever participated in, and given that they’re both terrific actors, I can fault them only for choosing so poorly.