Assassin's Creed: Film Review
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling
Director: Justin Kurzel
Re-teaming with MacBeth director Justin Kurzel for their second outing together, not even the star power of Fassbender and Cotillard can save the Assassin's Creed movie from being a muddled mess that's slavish to the phenomenally popular Ubisoft computer game series.
Fassbender is criminal Cal Lynch, who's summarily executed via lethal injection as the movie begins.
When he awakes, he finds himself in a room inside a shadowy cabal who are hunting for the Apple of Eden as they desperately try to wipe out violence in the world. The Abstergo group of Templars believes that holds the secret to unlocking the DNA of all life and could change the face of the Earth for the better.
Leading Cal into a machine to regress him is scientist Sofia (Cotillard in severe wig and saddled with obligatory exposition) and soon Cal finds himself back in 15th Century Spain in the body of his own ancestor, a trained Assassin.
But the further Cal goes into this world, the more the truth appears out of the shadows - is Abstergo doing the right thing?
Assassin's Creed does little to break the chain of unsuccessful video games committed to the big screen.
While the game's trademark aesthetics and nods are wrapped up in a swathe of moments that fans of the games will recognise with ease (the Leap of Faith, the building top scrabbling, the parkour and the posing post fights), non-fans may feel the cursory solid action sequences are muddied and unspectacular.
Both Fassbender and Cotillard deliver video game dialogue and explanation with little to no emotion, and Rampling, Irons and Gleeson are completely wasted in their supporting roles.
With a bombastic OST, an eagle soaring high above used repeatedly to segue between scenes, there are plenty of nods to the video game series and the centuries old fight between the Assassins and the Templars, but there's never any scope or depth delivered to the weight of the fight, other than through rote explanatory dialogue.
If anything's successful in Assassin's Creed, it's the action sequences which stop the surge of sci-fi mumbo jumbo being clinically delivered, but the more they are rolled out, the more it's a diminishing return.
Ultimately, Assassin's Creed is a C-movie with A-listers - it fails to deliver on anything in terms of spectacle and a muddied plot doesn't help things. While the Spanish setting may have delivered more depth if it had been built up more, the chop and change aesthetics and flat denouement mark it out as the first major flop of 2017. Despite its insistence on using the Leap of Faith from the games, it seems unlikely many in the audience will take the Leap of Faith needed.