Most film adaptations of video games haven’t been very good. While Justin Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed, based on Ubisoft’s hugely successful series of the same name, does not undo all the damage of films such as Super Mario and House of the Dead, it is one of the better films out there as far video game adaptations go.
The central question “Can violence be eradicated completely?” is attempted to be answered by cramming two movies into one. One storyline takes place in the present as Marion Cotillard’s Sophia Rykkin attempts to convince Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) to take on the mantle his ancestors have bestowed on him. Along with her father (Jeremy Irons), Sophia tries to unlock the secret of free will.
Scenes from this section resemble the classic movie mental asylum. There are creepy inmates, imperceptible figures of authority, and long brooding conversations on the nature of violence and individual will. These are typical of the genre and would have become tiresome if not for the frequent excursions into the past, where Callum becomes Aguilar de Nerha, an assassin of notable repute who is on the quest to seek the fabled apple from the Garden of Eden.
Both Fassbender, who gets a producer credit, and Kurzel, approach the original source material with a level of respect that could have gone either way. The gamble seems to have paid off. The CGI-laden scenes are all surface but are engrossing because of their breakneck pacing. They never let up, and the constantly moving camera, which leaps and dances with the action, allows for a complete immersion in the stylishly choreographed fights. The breakneck action sequences do not give enough time to think about plausibility, which is a good thing.