Films based on video games don’t have a good history. Over the years, numerous filmmakers have tried to stimulate the genre by infusing some novelty to the signature interactive experience. Of the dozen of adaptations, only Jake Gyllenhaal’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time succeeded in delivering the goods though only to a limited extent. This year was supposedly considered to lift the genre with Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed but the former crashed and burnt, leaving lesser hopes from the latter.
Now, after watching Justin Kurzel-directed gaming spectacle, all I can say is that this is the most engaging and entertaining adaptation we’ve had so far, which nicely marries video game offerings with an original storyline that is appealing to both the fans and the audiences alike.
The plot revolves around finding the ‘Apple of Eden’, an artifact that holds the genetic code to free will. For the nerds, the concept of free will is gratifying. It not only relates to the prevailing world problems of caste and creed but also acts as an obligatory reminder that we are born free and have no boundations to write our own destiny. In the film, we have two groups. The Templars, who wish to use the supreme power to control the world. And the Assassins, who want to prevent this from happening. This is a century-long war waging between the clans. Time has persistently elapsed but the bloodshed has stayed.
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Enter modern day world and we are introduced to Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender). A criminal, who is pronounced dead to the world but is forced to relive the life of his ancestor aka Assassin Aguilar de Nerha in the Spanish Inquisition about 500 years back in time. This transition is made possible by a machine called the Animus, invented by the founders of Abstergo Industries, Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) and his daughter Sofia (Marion Cotillard). It works by gaining access to a person’s past-life memories via his DNA and regresses him into that period of time.
Unlike the comprehensive and vastly different version of the machine (a chair actually) in the games, Animus isn’t properly described. We get to know very little of it. But it works in the film’s favor as just like Cal, we stay engaged throughout in comprehending it’s functionality. With exercise, Cal synchronizes with his ancestral self and surfaces some revelations, which form the crux for rest of the story.
Assassin’s Creed is a gripping first instalment of what possibly looks like a trilogy. A major portion, which is dedicated to Cal discovering and reenacting the history in the magnificent Spanish locales presented in a cross-cutting fashion, is fantastically done. The carriage chases, sword fights, parkour over rooftops are all thrilling to behold. The glorious production design and visual effects only add more weight.
While there are many Assassins in the game, the film features significantly lesser characters. But, the major chunk in the movie that comprises of Fassbender’s Aguilar and Ariane Labed’s Maria in action make it worth a watch. Jed Jurzel’s pulse-pounding score imbues more energy and intensity to the narrative. The film flows smoothly until the final act which is sort of an anti-climax and is downright disappointing. Staged in the Freemasons’ Hall in London, the finale feels completely out of sync. It lacks action and adds unnecessary twists solely to lend more insight to the sequel. That mars the impact a trifle.
Still, the super trio of Fassbender, Cotillard and Kurzel who gave us Macbeth last year has succeeded in pushing the boundaries of the gaming adaptations by providing some genuine thought behind the Ubisoft product that has a good potential to become a respectable movie franchise.
With Assassin’s Creed, Michael Fassbender adds memorable performance in his diverse filmography.
From building an athletic physique to getting into the character, he is excellent and sheer fun to watch from the beginning till the end. If not for anyone else, you’re sure to return for the sequel to see him again in action. Albeit, in a new terrain and with a more kickass team of Assassins.
By Mayank Nailwal
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