Ben Hibburd’s review published on Letterboxd:
Based on the hugely popular Ubisoft video games (of which i’m a fan), Assassin’s Creed sees Michael Fassbender star as Callum Lynch a man that has been sent to death for murdering a pimp. After being sentenced to death he wakes up at Abstergo, a mysterious corporation that uses his DNA to access his ancestors memories in the attempt to locate the Apple of Eden. The apple is a device which has the ability to control people's free will. He’s thus sent back to 15th century Spain using his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha’s memories, an assassin who's pledged his life to guard the artefact.
This film really should’ve been called Assassin’s Sweeps, seriously I don’t think I’ve seen a film with as many camera sweeps as this film has. It really started to bug me after the first 20 minutes. In some ways Assassin’s Creed is the perfect adaptation, because just like its videogame counterpart it’s filled with so much potential, but it’s never fully realised. This film suffers the same issues the game also does, where everything inside the Animus with Aguilar’s memories is excellent and intriguing. However in the current timeline the characters and story are un-interesting. Every time the film cut back to it, I wanted it to return to the Spanish setting.
Where this film struggles is in the writing. It’s clear that this film was made for fans of the video game, which is fine. However I felt like they didn’t do a good enough job explaining the lore and the rules of the world for those that have no idea about the game series. Another minor issue I had with the film is the characters felt very generic, they’re all given typically cliched backstories, and for such a stellar cast it was a missed opportunity to give the film some much needed depth.
For a videogame adaptation the film is competently well made. The cinematography and costume/set design all look and feel authentic in the 15th century setting. Justin Kurzel does a good job directing the action scenes, they’re fluid and the shaky cam isn’t as extreme in other films of this ilk, which makes for a more engaging experience.
The first act of the film is clearly the weakest as the film is trying to shove tons of exposition down the audience's throats and the editing is poorly constructed. Thankfully from the first Animus set-piece the film manages to find it’s footing and becomes more confident and sure of itself.
Michael Fassbender gives a typically committed performance in his dual role, and he keeps the film grounded on the right track when the plot starts to become questionable. Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling and Marion Cotillard all give a decent if somewhat unremarkable job in their roles. In the end Assassin’s Creed could’ve been a better film if they kept the focus on the Spanish Inquisition rather than the modern day storyline, I think one more pass on the script to tighten up the loose plot threads would of made the film more accessible to general audiences. However despite all the problems the film has, it’s easily one of the best videogame to film adaptations made thus far, take from that what you will.