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Video game in a movie ‘Assassin’s Creed’ trades storytelling for Templar killing

Thursday 12th, January 2017 / 14:08
By Willem Osland

VANCOUVER — Assassin’s Creed is the first instalment of a sure-to-be franchise that is based on the popular video game by the same title, and a story where past and present collide. Michael Fassbender plays Callum Lynch, a death row convict and descendant of a 15th century assassin named Aguilar (also played by Fassbender) forced into being a corporate lab rat. Through a machine called the Animus they make him relive his ancient grandfathers memories in order to locate of a magical stone. Sounds like a stretch? It is.

If you buy into this film’s wild theories, they’re pretty enjoyable. For example, did you know that every memory of your ancestors—parkour set pieces and one-against-100 fights in all—are passed down in your family’s DNA? Also, in a completely unnecessary piece of forced action, the Animus puts its user in a POV simulation: you jump when your grandfather jumped and make a witty one-liner when your grandfather did (though surely this made for some absurdly awkward moments for Lynch). But while the ideas and theories in this movie are hugely creative, the verisimilitude is broken as the characters spout off prosaic explanations with little rhyme or reason—almost like a video game tutorial (“Look’s like there’s a pipe in your way—press X to jump, Callum!”).

And while the video game is an important part of this film, the writers shoved every component into the movie, much to the detriment of the film’s identity. There is so much going on in this story but not much being explained, and character motivations are replaced with fan-service action sequences. In short, the story is more of a filler between rooftop chases. The final flaw with the story is that Lynch’s motivation is unclear and the “evil” corporation’s motive is world peace. The audience is possibly left cheering for the wrong team.

With so little story, their dedication to serialization is impressive: besides the signature weak climax which leave lot of unanswered questions, they literally showcase every future reincarnation of Callum’s ancestors in a room so we can count the number of upcoming releases.

If you were a fan of the original game series and all you care about is seeing a man in a cloak parkour his way through the streets of 15th century Spain or stab a Templar in the throat with a retractile blade, then you’re in luck: screenwriters Michael Lesslie and Adam Cooper understand what loyal fans love about the original series. Other positives are the cinematography and the fight choreographing, leaving this a sure winner in the box office.

At the end of the day, this is a video-game movie, a genre which has never meant quality for anyone who isn’t a fan of the original property. Assassin’s Creed falls in line with Hitman, Prince of Persia, and Super Mario Brothers as an attempt at a trick that few have pulled off—but never stops studios from trying.

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