Twentieth Century Fox 140 minutes PG-13
Michael Fassbender became intrigued with the idea of being able to track characteristics of human DNA back thousands of years as presented in the popular award winning video game. Too bad the saga of Callum Lynch going back into the body of a distant relative Aguilar de Nerha, became more a confusing story with an even more confusing series of battles, than anything else. The very first scene is Aguilar losing a finger in a bloody ritual. Then the first time we see Callum is as a little boy witnessing his father, (Brendan Gleeson) wearing assassin attire, kill his mother in a disturbing scene. He was subsequently raised in foster homes turning to a life of crime as an assassin himself.
This film is stunt heavy. We happen to be fans of parkour, which is a form of martial arts training by running, jumping and climbing using any walls, rooftops, poles, boxes, or any structure to hurdle, bounce off of climb, etc. to survive. The cinematography is often sepia toned or hazy using long shots and closeups of these incredibly physical stunts climbing over or jumping over buildings at full speed. That’s exciting and was the most fascinating part of the movie for us.
The story ( there were multiple writers) was choppy and didn’t follow well. Director Justin Kurzel used CGI in addition to the physical action to get the special effects he wanted. But it seems that there were some transitions missing or that took for granted the audience knew from the Ubisoft video game on which the film is based.
Callum Lynch is a bad ass in prison and about to be executed for being an assassin. He befriends fellow assassin Moussa. Abstergo Industries, saves Callum to conduct an experiment which will test his DNA going back generations to see if he is a descendant of the assassins who fought the Templars. They hook him into an Animus machine used to take Callum back virtually into his ancestors’ world. It is a chair in the video game, but this is film. So they jacked it up to a machine that lifts Callum/Fassbinder high in the air when he’s traveling back, to make it more dramatic and also less likely to be compared to The Matrix. Callum hallucinates in painful, fashion becoming Aguilar de Nerha, one of his ancestors who is an assassin trying to retrieve the Apple of Eden, the symbol of a secret society of assassins protecting freedom from the power hungry Templar Order in 15th Century Spain.
Marion Cotillard plays Sofia. She’s a scientist and daughter of Alan Rikkin, (Jeremy Irons), in charge of the Abstergo project. Sofia’s mother died at the hands of an assassin, just like Callum’s did. That’s what they have in common.
Father and Daughter, Sophia and Rikkin have completely different accents which don’t match and there’s never an explanation. Marion Cotillard is the soft spoken scary type who’s role is too even. Is she a good guy or bad guy? Also, when we go back to Templar times, Aguilar and his girlfriend, Maria (Ariane Labed), speak in Spanish with subtitles which is hard to follow.
Fassbender bulked up big time for this role and the cerebral actor from Jobs shows he can handle action. He is shirtless for a good part of the movie, showing his new, muscle-bound physique. He goes through all kinds of painful machinations, but it doesn’t explain what’s really going on.
This is one movie you can go to see for the stunts alone. They’re exciting and well done even if they’re redundant and don’t often seem necessary to the story. If you’re a fan of the game, you might love this and be able to fill in the blanks/scenes missing of the story. But if you’re not, it might be better just to play the video game.