The new film starring and produced by Michael Fassbender and Marianne Cotillard is Assassin’s Creed – and directed by Justin Kurzel whose previous work includes the 2015 version of Macbeth that had Fassbender in the lead role. The film is based on the Ubisoft game (that led to a series of games) with the same title.
The film sees Callum Lynch, orphaned at a young age, and having turned to violence, now facing the death sentence for a murder. After the sentence is carried out, he wakes to find himself not only still alive but with a group who have developed an ability to replay memories of people’s ancestors, stored in DNA. The way that this is done, is through a machine known as the ‘animus’, invented by Sophia Rikkin (Cotillard).
The machine allows Archer to relive the memories of one of his ancestors, Aguilar de Nerha, from the era of the Spanish Inquisition, who had been a member of a secret organisation – The Assassins‘ – who were sworn to fight the Knights Templar and defend the Apple of Eden, an historical secret that holds huge potential power.
Films based on computer games have a pretty chequered past, with a lot more lows than highs. Discussion of this phenomenon is for a different time and place, but this film is certainly not one of the lows.
It may not be enough for it to stand alone without the reputation of the game, but for me it certainly works on the big screen. The structure of the film (much with the game) operates in parallel with almost two different styles. One – the one set in modern day – is somewhat more of a sci-fi thriller, with the second an historical action adventure.
Fassbender carries both roles off well and embraces the fighting scenes and the free-running moments that was one of the earmarks of the original game. Jeremy Irons also stars as the father of Cotillard’s character.
I really enjoyed the premise of the original game, and played it a lot when it first came out. The film offers a true representation of the game with enough drama and quality to be both enjoyable and engaging although I do think that as explanations of the Apple of Eden play out, they serve to cause more confusion than add to the story.
Worth a watch if you get a chance, especially if you enjoyed the game. There is enough material in the game franchise to suggest plenty of opportunity for sequels.
P.S. – as a complete sidenote to this, Fassbender remains my preference for the next James Bond. Something else for a different time though.