Assassin’s Creed

Writing MovieWRONGS

By Jim West

Assassin’s Creed

Directed by Justin Kurzel

Written by Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage

Video game movies often get a bad rap when it comes to getting a movie made.  Often you cannot please everyone.  Diehard fans want it just a certain way, and often studios are trying to net the widest audience possible with hopes of becoming a film franchise.  Assassin’s Creed is based upon a popular video game series, and with three writers on this project this film fails three times as much.

This film is an original story that ‘fits’ inside the storylines of all of the video games.  This was a bold move that didn’t work in their favor.  Now I must admit I have never played any of the video games for Assassin’s Creed.  So I went into this film with no history or storylines.  I soon felt what I imagine fans of the games must feel and that surely was disappointment.  Now since watching the film I went online and read the storylines for the video games hoping maybe there is something I needed to know to help adjust my feelings on this film.  There wasn’t.  In fact what I found was the actual games storylines were significantly better than the film’s.  Let us get down to it shall we?  Spoilers ahead!

Michael Fassbender, Jeremy Irons and Marion Cotillard are all phenomenal actors, but even with these A-listers the writing fails their talents.  Fassbender’s character is a direct descendant of an Assassin named Aguilar from 1492 Spain.  The Templars are a presumably evil organization which seek an artifact called the Apple of Eden which holds the genetic code for mankind’s free will.  Their goal is if they can trace Aguilar’s steps back in time through a device called the Animus to discover where this artifact is.  This Animus is a device is sort of a virtual reality harness that allows Fassbender to act out what he sees Aguilar doing from the past in genetic memories.  That right there although makes for good activity scenes, actually doesn’t work for suspension of disbelief.  It actually is distracting.  I think James Cameron’s Avatar did a fine job with the body/mind transfer and even the Matrix did this much better than this film does.  Now the rule is in the Animus is that Fassbender’s character cannot control what Aguilar does in the past because it already happened.  So he is merely a passenger acting along for the mind memory playback.  Now I am okay with the memory playbacks.  In fact where the film shines is the action sequences, but what is a huge distractor is the falcon flyover the director kept using every time Fassbender went back to Aguilar’s memories.  Completely unnecessary and waste of time.  Time better spent on establishing supporting characters and tying up a foreshadowed fight that never happened.  Earlier in the film a head security guard tells Fassbender’s character how he admires and respects the assassin’s, but that Fassbender’s character is nothing like those assassins.  Of course I expected a climatic fight between these two.  Never happened.  Fail.  Next Marion’s character grows throughout the story to dislike her father to only at the end after his death to want to avenge him (too convenient to setup a sequel and boring).  Finally the supporting assassin characters in the facility are given no real background to give us a sense of connection to them.  Just random people thrown together for the ride and they are just supposed to click immediately in the film’s end as a team.  Nope. 

How to improve the writing?  First off cut the time spent on aerial bird’s eye view flyovers and Animus harness scenes being acted out and stick with the Aguilar scenes.  Connect the band of assassin’s from Aguilar’s time to the present day descendants locked up with Fassbender so there is something that connects them all together.  Next give us the climatic fight scene hinted at, but never delivered.  Show that guard subduing Fassbender easily earlier in the film to establish he is a better fighter, stronger, and faster than Fassbender.  Then later through the Animus and merging of memories, Fassbender becomes a skilled assassin himself able to go toe to toe with that guard.  Mind over matter of course!  Finally I would have ended the film with a bloodbath to even up the numbers of Templars versus assassins.  The doors could have been locked and would have made for a chaotic final scene culminating with the final fight mentioned before.

It is a shame that video game movies keep getting a bad reputation for not living up to the games success.  Yet with three writers this film still lands in the pile of movie wrongs that easily could have been greater with better writing. 

Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’. 

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