This began as a review of Assassin’s Creed, and turned into a discussion of the nature of storytelling. If you want a review, that’s easy:
Run far, run fast, don’t look back, don’t try a Leap of Faith in the real world.
None of the following is a diss on the technical people involved. The film was beautifully made. The costumes were amazing, I loved the camera work.
When you’re as good as that cast list are, then the acting is not the problem. Particularly Michael Fassbender at the beginning, he was amazing.
The trouble was it was difficult to care about any of that when no-one is given all that much character.
I mean, Aguilar gets a bit, but the fact that I can only remember the assassin’s name and not the modern-day dude should tell you something. The film was really bad at giving the characters names and identities. For instance, the only reason I know that Maria’s name is Maria, not ‘unspeakably hot Assassin chick’ which I had to call her, was because I looked the film up on IMDB and had to work backwards from female actresses listed.
The same thing for the modern day Assassins. I would care a lot more about the fate of Assassin 3 and 4 if, you know, they were people rather than cardboard cutouts that some fine actors were doing their best with.
I mean it. Name one non-Aguilar assassin just from watching the film.
There’s no sense of them being real people, they have less personality than the NPCs in the game do.
What Mad Max: Fury Road did excellently well, this doesn’t bother to do at all. I’m not given a reason to care about these characters, so I don’t, which means the grand sacrifice scenes don’t work.
It’s odd that a film that took so much care over everything else (the sets, the costumes, the little details like Aguilar’s name and the Torquemada’s nose) had such a bad, flat script.
My other problem is not the film’s fault. Or rather, I have the same problem with the games but the film emphasises it. The whole, ‘there are no rules’ philosophy is well and good if you’re strong and strapping. If you’ve the kind of person who isn’t, it tends to end badly for you. Relying on people to look after each other in that sort of set up also ends badly. That the film just blithely accepts that the Assassins view of life without questioning it is ooky.
Some spoilers below.
The film goes out of its way to avoid shades of grey. Whether it’s making Cal Lynch a criminal who prays on other criminals (so it’s okay to cheer him on), painting the Assassins as completely good and the Templars as completely evil, or just making Marion Cotillard evil all of a sudden (I cannot overstate how bad the film was at giving the names of the characters). That was also a shocking waste of Marion Cotillard. She’s an amazing actress, so use her.
Assassin’s Creed annoyed me, because it came so close to being good. It had one glaring flaw, but the script was so bad and a script makes up such a large part of the film that I felt really let down.