Movie Review: ‘Assassin’s Creed’ is weirdly and awkwardly enjoyable
Christmas is a difficult day to get through. There’s a lot of build-up, the fun part is over quicker than expected and the rest of the time is filled with forced small talk, disappointment and awkward silence. But this Christmas was made a little less awkward and disappointing with the release of “Assassin’s Creed,” an incredibly stupid but unbelievably enjoyable disaster that makes no sense whatsoever and functions like an Ayn Rand novel repurposed into an ad for Mountain Dew Kickstart. Just incoherent, crazy and dumb. It made this Christmas a little merrier.
The most surprising thing about “Assassin’s Creed” is its cast. You would think a movie based on a glitchy, not very good video game series would star the likes of Matthew Fox, Natalie Dormer and Eric Roberts. But, amazingly, “Assassin’s Creed” boasts the participation of Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard (speaking with a shaky British accent) and Jeremy Irons. Crazier still, Charlotte Rampling and Michael K. Williams have small supporting roles! Yet, in spite of the fact that this film feels like it was written by a baby who just learned how to say “taxation is theft,” everybody is dramatically swinging for the fences. At one point Irons talks about a golden apple that contains the genetic code for free will hidden inside Christopher Columbus’ grave. Their commitment to the film is admirable considering the cast could have Skyped in their performances while they lied on the couch mindlessly going through the choices on Netflix. It still wouldn’t have affected the general quality of “Assassin’s Creed.”
It’s never a promising sign when a film opens with an expository crawl, but any film that opens with an expository crawl, followed by three separate prologues, is simply confirming its own shittiness. Like a friend who frantically attempts to fill you in on what “you’re going see” when you borrow their laptop, “Assassin’s Creed” never stops explaining itself but never starts making sense. A secret society of assassins, who wear identical uniforms with large, ornate battle axes on their backs which kind of defeats the purpose of being a stealthy assassin who can melt unnoticed into a crowd, violently promote their message that “everything is permitted” by jumping on rooftops and murdering popes.
Opposing the Assassins are the Knights of Templar who want to “eradicate free will.” Irons’ character actually says these three words many times. At one point he bemoans how “consumerism and religion failed to eradicate free will.” It’s dialogue like this that makes me wonder how the screenwriters managed to finish the script being that their laptop keyboard had to be nearly inoperable under all of that Cheetos dust and splattered Mountain Dew.
After that, random things happen with little to no explanation. Fassbender is a living descendant of Aguilar the last known assassin to know the whereabouts of the free will apple I mentioned earlier. Irons fakes Fassbender’s death and places him in an institution that looks like a mental hospital crossed with the Batcave. While there, Fassbender is placed in a device called The Animus that forces him to relive random moments from Aguilar’s life. It should be noted that The Animus is elaborately useless at best and counterproductive at worst. Couldn’t Irons’ team of scientists come up with a more passive device to use on Fassbender? One that could reveal the whereabouts of the apple without turning an aggressive killer into a focused, far more aggressive killer who now knows how to parkour off buildings?
Grim and self-important to a ridiculous degree, “Assassin’s Creed” is junk but it’s fun junk. What other movie could boast a minor plot point revolving around robbing Christopher Columbus’ grave?
Granted, I’m probably overselling “Assassin’s Creed” in the same way the world is overselling Oscar-contender-of-the-month “Manchester by the Sea,” but sometimes a stupid movie is just as enjoyable as a good movie.
Mike Sullivan is a movie reviewer for Weekender. Movie reviews appear weekly in Weekender.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling and Michael K. Williams
Director: Justin Kurzel
Weekender Rating: WWV
Length: 140 minutes