“Assassin’s Creed,” the latest attempt to turn a computer game, in this case from Ubisoft, into a cinema franchise, begins in 1492 in Andalucia (with a lisp), Spain, where members of the Assassin’s Creed “brotherhood” engage in a quest to find the Apple of Eden, which controls humanity’s free will.
It’s not religious dogma. It’s just a dog. The Assassins are in competition for this imaginary Apple with their archenemies, the Knights Templar. To put it another way, what are Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling doing in this nonsense? The answer may be looking too desperately for a paycheck and a hope of future ones. Sorry, my friends.
Fassbender, who also produced the film, and Cotillard, who can also be seen in the current release “Allied,” previously worked with “Assassin’s Creed” director Justin Kurzel on an unsuccessful 2015 grungy film version of “Macbeth,” playing the title character and his wife, Lady Macbeth. In “Assassin’s Creed,” Fassbender plays dual roles. In 15th-century Spain, he is the assassin known as Aguilar de Nerhar and speaks Spanish. In the present day, he is Callum Lynch, a career criminal from Texas, who as a child saw his mother’s dead body immediately after she was killed by his assassin father.
Cotillard plays Sophia Rikkin, a brilliant scientist and daughter of Knights Templar high-up Alan Rikkin (Irons). Sophia uses her skills to revive Callum after his execution and trains him using high-tech torture machines to fight and find the Apple. After subduing the restored-to-life Callum, Sophia shouts, “Prepare the enemas.” Or at least that’s what it sounded like to me, and I thought to myself, “Well, this is getting creepier fast.”
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It turns out she said, “Prepare the Animus.” I’m not even going to try to explain what the Animus is. But it has something to do with curing humanity of violence, a hilarious bit of hypocrisy in a film as violent as this.
“Assassin’s Creed” is yet another action-fantasy featuring computer-generated imagery and subwoofer-powered effects that are the cinematic equivalent of water-boarding. The only good thing about the film are its chase scenes inspired by parkour.
Boasting yet another heavy metal score by Aussie Kurzel’s brother Jed Kurzel (“Macbeth”), “Assassin’s Creed,” co-written by Michael Lesslie (“Macbeth”) and writing partners Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (“Allegiant” and the even more appalling “Exodus: Gods and Kings”), is mostly dreck. Prepare the enemas.
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Michael K. Williams, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Ariane Labed.
Director: Justin Kurzel.
Screenwriters: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage.
A 20th Century Fox release. Running time: 108 minutes. Vulgar language, intense action, violence, adult themes. Playing at area theaters.