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Assassin’s Creed

Year: 2016
Production Co: Regency Enterprises
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Justin Kurzel
Writer: Michael Lesslie/Adam Cooper/Bill Collage
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Brendan Gleeson

The videogame movie adaptation curse strikes again. Assassin's Creed is a mess, both overblown and under-developed, where high calibre actors too in love with the director of their previous outing (Justin Kurzel, who directed stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in Macbeth), but who ended up working with a dreadful script that no amount of directing finesse could save.

The mythology behind the successful game series isn't that interesting to begin with – some machine (when Cotillard first mentions The Animus, someone I saw it with thought she said 'the enemas') connects a guy (Fassbender) with the memories of an ancestor of his, Aguilar (Fassbender) who's part of a cadre of highly skilled assassins in dark ages Spain.

Except it isn't just some Matrix-a-like machine that directly plugs him into Aguilar's mind – despite the plug that goes into the back of his neck. It's a whole VR thrill ride where it picks him up, spins him around and slams him down in tune to the fighting being done by his forefather hundreds of years before, so he can actually learn the skills of the Assassins that Aguilar knows... I think.

In the games, the way the whole world works is merely a plot device to drive the action controlled by the player. But including the handful of iconic gameplay elements and visuals like the hooded figures, the parkour and the swan dives off high bell towers do not a story make, and the movie makes the mistake of thinking that the way the mythology plays out is far more interesting that it is. And even if it was, could it be any more confusing?

Aside from all that, even though the directing can't save the shortcomings in the story or script, it certainly doesn't do the movie any favours either. In scenes that should be sweeping and epic like the pans across the rooftops of the city, Kurzel puts so much haze and smoke in the foreground it makes everything look muddy and claustrophobic.

He'd undoubtedly tell you it's because a lot of the economies of old Europe before the industrial age were driven by fire, but it just looks like it's there to cover up the shoddy, rushed CGI.

Great actors like Fassbender, Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling and Brendan Gleeson give awful lines in an awful story everything they have, but it's far from enough. There are too many characters and too much exposition and none of it makes enough sense. At a certain point I simply gave up trying to understand it, looking instead for things to laugh at.

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