By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Assassin’s Creed, like majority of movies based on video games, has been copping a hiding, but for what it lacks in plot and character development, it makes up for with mesmerising fight scenes, stunning visuals and all round bad-ass action movie realness.
Troublemaker and criminal Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender), at the request of Dr Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) – head of the myserious Abstergo foundation, is given a mission to locate a powerful religious artefact in medieval Spain. In doing so, Cal must access the memories of his ancestor Aguilar De Nerha (Fassbender again) who was once in the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ – a secret society that protected the world from the wrath of the Templar order.
Australian director Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, Macbeth) is known for his shocking and visceral films and does a decent job with Assassin’s Creed. He’s set up an authentic canvas that pays homage to the parkour-type running sequences in the original video games and has coated it with his trademark layer of delicious dirt and grit that made his last film Macbeth so down-to-earth and hauntingly beautiful.
It’s clear that careful thought has gone into art direction this film. The assassin’s costumes took 2-3 months to make, and it shows. On top of that, 80% of sequences are comprised of REAL action. This is the same greatness that we saw in Mad Max: Fury Road. Genuine sweaty adrenaline pumping madness, no CGI admirals or princesses here (sorry Rogue One, but I f-cking hated that). Even the fight scenes blew me away. No close range shaky camera nonsense that’s been done to death in your typical superhero franchise. This is down right classy choreography and it reminded me of The Matrix or the more recent John Wick.
Honestly, I was blown away by the look of this film. The worlds represented in both present day and medieval Spain are polar opposites and yet work so well together, you never get too much of one or the other, giving the film a well balanced kind of rhythm. And then there’s the symbolic flying eagle acting as a wonderful mediator and tying everything together – another reference to the video games.
This is also the first action film I’ve seen in a while that was shot entirely in Europe (Spain and Malta) and all sequences in Spain are actually in SPANISH which makes it feel so damn authentic. I’m sick to death of European stories being told in British and American accents. Remember Tom Cruise in Valkyrie? No, thank you. Fassbender put in a good effort with Spanish, it’s not an easy accent to get.
The cast were a good fit and it’s a pleasure to see both Cotillard and Fassbender together again since their last Kurzel outing in Macbeth. Greek actress Ariane Labed gave a fantastic performance as fellow assassin Maria – I’d like to see her in some more action roles. One thing I would have loved to have seen more of was character development. We never get to learn much about Cal’s past, but maybe that’ll come in the near future…
I can’t work out why everyone has been so harsh with this film. For me Assassin’s Creed was an all round enjoyable action outing with some elements of sci-fi and even archaeological adventure thrown in. It’s an Indiana Jones story with more grit, violence, and a hell of a hypnotic soundtrack by composer Jed Kurzel, brother of director Justin. There’s even an element of stoner rock and trip hop thrown in there for good measure.