You say you’re an action movie fan? “Assassin’s Creed” will give you so much action you’ll stagger from the theater bug-eyed and bowled over. Oh, and mightily confused.
From my notes, inscribed in real time: “rooftop running, galloping, leaping, climbing, crossbows, crash, sword slice, arrows, climbing, jumping.”
And further: “pounding drums, slice, chop, gallop, gallop, dusty pursuit, gallop, gallop, lens flare, thundering hooves, wagon over a cliff.”
And over it all, director Justin Kurzel hangs enormous clouds of choking dust and billowing battle smoke that occasionally obscure what’s going on.
Derived from the popular video game, “Assassin’s Creed” sends its hero (played by Michael Fassbender) back and forth through time, from the Spanish Inquisition to the modern day. During the Inquisition, he’s a cloaked, blade-bearing member of a shadowy sect of assassins (see title). Think of this guy as Character One. In 2016, he’s a convict executed for murder and then quickly revived. In this picture, death is a mere hiccup, easily overcome. Consider this fellow to be Character Two.
Character One is the ancestor of Character Two. By a time-warping DNA-based mind-melding process cooked up by a gauntly elegant, tech-savvy evil mastermind (played by Jeremy Irons) and his scientist daughter (played by Marion Cotillard), Character Two is able to inhabit the consciousness of Character One. The object of this is to allow Fassbender to get his hands on a magical MacGuffin-like object that went missing during the Inquisition. This in turn will, Irons explains, allow his malevolent mastermind to eradicate free will and thereby cure humanity’s penchant for violence. Curiously, this will somehow be accomplished through the application of massive amounts of violence. And yes, that makes less than no sense — confusion starts here.
And so a buff and often shirtless Fassbender, attached to a bizarre reticulated high-tech arm, is flung back and forth through time and into repeated episodes of high-velocity breathtaking carnage.
The picture has an undeniable rough stylishness (Kurzel, who previously directed Fassbender and Cotillard in last year’s “Macbeth,” has an eye for striking imagery), but in terms of coherence of storytelling, it leaves the audience choking on all that swirling dust.
☆☆ 1/2 out of 5
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons.
Director: Justin Kurzel.
Running time: 1:56.
Rated: PG-13, for intense sequences of violence and action, thematic elements and brief strong language.