Review: Assassin’s Creed

Stick to the video games because the film is a disappointment

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Assassin’s Creed is a perfect example of how a film with such potential can end up being such a disappointment. Based up on a video game series of the same name, it appears that the film’s creators misunderstood the nature of the games and neglected to include many key story elements that would have made for a more watertight screenplay. Instead what we have is the Swiss cheese of films, with so many gaping holes it’s surprising that it made it to the cinema.

Anyone unfamiliar with the games may find it difficult to grasp the story, and unless you take a notebook and pen to the theatre I doubt you ever will. The opening hour of the film tries to force so much information down your throat that it forgets to forge any meaningful character interaction. As a result of this, and to no fault of their own, the film features possibly the worst performances of Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Fassbender’s most memorable line throughout the entire film across both of his characters is ‘I’m hungry’, which speaks volumes. The line is repeated several times in conceivably the most unengaging scene, although there is a lot of competition for that title.

There are a few positive aspects to Assassin’s Creed, but each of those are overshadowed by their poor implementation. For instance, the depiction of 15th Century Spain was truly beautiful. It is a shame however that we barely got to see it, and when we did it was during chaotic chase scenes with fast paced and blurry views of Seville. On the topic of chase scenes, there was a wonderfully choreographed chariot chase scene early on. Once again though it’s awe-inspiring impact wasn’t exploited, or even felt. This was due to the mystifying decision to include around 7 different camera angles of the action. The pièce de résistance of the scene, where Fassbender’s character leaps from one chariot to the other, would have been edge-of-seat excitement if shown in one continuous shot. After perhaps the 4th mid-air camera angle change though my discontent became almost palpable.

The most baffling part of the film, in my opinion, was the inclusion of Brendan Gleeson playing Fassbender’s character Callum Lynch’s father. He was likely added to the story in an attempt to give Lynch’s present day life some grounding but every scene featuring Gleeson’s character is redundant, often leading to more story confusion. The money used in hiring him could have been used more efficiently to create more animus based scenes or a another writer who could create a screenplay with more lively dialogue.

Director Justin Kurzel completely misses the point with Assassin’s Creed. The games aren’t about the story so much as the exploration. Where else can you climb the Dome of the Rock Mosque and look over 13th Century Jerusalem, or jump into a gondola and row through the canals of 15th Century Venice? And even when forced into combat, stealth is key. I’d rather have watched Fassbender hiding in a haystack for 5 minutes waiting for the optimal time to strike than the overly choreographed and repetitive fight scenes presented to me. Maybe if the time spent trying to create the basis for two more lacklustre films was put into making the initial film higher quality, there would actually be a sequel.

Review: Allied

Allied is the epitome of Hollywood classic cinema

With his latest cinematic effort, director Robert Zemeckis is finally returning to reality after a brief and disappointing stint with animated works such as Beowulf. Reminiscent of the golden-age, Allied is a visually stunning and nostalgic take on how life used to be. With a straightforward yet complex narrative, accompanied with a beautiful score by Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump, Cast Away), you will be left longing for a time you’ve never known.

We open to fabulous shot of Max Vatan (Brad Pitt), Air Force Commander, slowly descending by parachute into the Moroccan desert. After travelling to Casablanca he meets French Resistance fighter Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) and the two must engage in a faux marriage in order to carry out an assassination on a high ranking Nazi Ambassador. In a nod to the iconic 1941 film of the same name, the faux love of Casablanca soon becomes true love and the upon completing the mission and escaping the country they settle down in London and have a child, Anna.

Aside from the nightly bombings, life is simpler in London with organising house parties appearing to be the largest cause of stress. The family lives an idyllic life in an idyllic world, thanks to the incredible cinematography. This is cut short however when Vatan is informed of new intelligence suggesting her wife is in fact a German spy. It’s laughable at first yet the claims are founded with damning evidence and what follows is the tragic collapse of his trust as he awaits the results of the investigation. Later that night as Vatan washes his face an earlier scene from Casablanca is replayed, where Beauséjour explains how creating real emotion when undercover has kept her alive so long. With Vatan slowly losing his mind as he tries to work out whether his life is all a lie, he decides to take matters into his own hands ultimately heading for France for answers.

Perhaps overly romanticised at times, including a raunchy scene during a sandstorm, the spectacle of it all seems to just work. Zemeckis’s passion for integrating the latest technological advances helps create a highly exaggerated world, one which the films it imitates dream to be. Cotillard and Pitt’s embodiment of vintage hollywood match this wonderfully.

In a seemingly hopeless world ravaged by war, life is lived to the fullest and love is true. Zemeckis shows us the beauty in the detail and although this movie isn’t perfect, it implants a renewed sense of admiration for the sacrifices made by those before us.