I make no secret about my devotion to the Assassin’s Creed series of games from Ubisoft. Even in their darkest times (3 & Unity) I’ve still found a shred of goodness within the utter trash that is both of those games. You’ll be surprised I’m sure that I ended up in a theater alone on a Wednesday night watching the first Ubisoft attempt to convert one of their gaming franchises to the big screen. Hoping for an empty theater so I could react naturally, I was shocked to see a partially full theater 15 minutes before showtime, and by the time the movie started half the seats were filled.
I had a bad feeling from the start when the preceding trailers consisted of a couple of terrible looking horror films, the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and what looks like a cookie cutter comedy with Ice Cube and Charlie Day. Then the theater dimmed and the horror continued. An obscenely long shot with an eagle flying over landscapes to start the movie were signs of things to come, and whenever they needed to kill 1-2 minutes pointlessly they kept going back to that damn eagle. But I guess it’s better than dealing with the story that they came up with.
We start in the far flung past of 1986 where we see what amounts to backstory for Michael Fassbender's Callum Lynch, whose Assassin dad killed his mom for reasons. He then flees from a bunch of armed dudes and we then travel 30 years into the future where Fassbender is now on death row for murder. But oh wait Abstergo is there to bring him back from the dead because they need him to locate the Apple of Eden (this is a direct callout to the artifact from the 1st game) so they can eliminate free will. They hook him up to what they call the Animus, but it really just looks like someone liked The Matrix a lot but wanted it to be just a bit shittier fidelity and allow your body to actually move and jump around in your imagination. I get that you want something high tech in your movie, but goddamn was that thing REALLY stupid looking. And apparently the memories are just projected holograms from what looks like bigger versions of those damn lights people use during Christmas to project lights onto their houses.
So after jumping the the magic machine and nearly dying, Fassbender then gets introduced to the “cool assassin kids” also being held at Abstergo High, including Omar from The Wire, an Asian woman who looks too cool, and a couple other dudes with no discernible characteristics. After time traveling, apparently you start tripping balls and start seeing holograms of you ancestors as a “side effect” that you can apparently spar with and learn how to be an awesome fighter.
So now he’s starting to become dangerous, and that just can’t happen, so the evil Abstergo boss (Jeremy Irons in clear “I’m getting paid in cash right?” mode) makes him get right back into the magic machine again against his daughter’s (who is apparently a doctor) wishes. Another long eagle shot later we’re in the past and this time Fassbender and his kill buddies have to parkour their way to freedom. And apparently the Templars are all parkour masters lying in wait around literally EVERY corner. Eventually they escape by jumping off a high place in a “leap of faith” reminiscent of the games as well and it nearly kills Fassbender again.
At this point I’m going to spare you the rest of this terrible plot, but just to sum up the Assassins are “reborn” thanks to Fassbender’s magical ability to assassinate Jeremy Irons during a meeting in the Templar Grand Hall which apparently only has metal detectors as their security. And they end the movie with you guessed it: another damn shot of an eagle flying over a city and then a quick cut the Fassbender looking “cool” in modern assassin garb.
It’s not just that they decide to play fast and loose with the mythos of the game series (I know most people don’t like it, but dammit I wanted my aliens) but that they make the Assassins seem only badass enough for the speed of plot. They only really perform what I consider a “classic” assassination once in the entire movie. When I picture the “ideal” version of this movie, I think of the character carrying out stealthy kills without being seen, but apparently that’s impossible in this new universe. This is not that movie, and it makes me sad that I’ll probably never get it made now.
Bottom line, this movie continues the long and infamous line of terrible video game adaptations and should be avoided unless you watch with friends on a dare or something.