Assassin’s Creed | Michael Fassbender can’t rescue this video game action movie from absurdity

Assassin's Creed Michael Fassbender Ariane Labed

Combining conspiratorial gobbledegook with lots of running and jumping over medieval rooftops, this adaptation of the popular video game series Assassin’s Creed comes across as the Da Vinci Code with added parkour. Sadly, it’s not a happy mix.

To get to the action, there are gobs of baffling exposition to swallow as Michael Fassbender’s death-row convict, Cal Lynch, gets roped into a centuries-old battle between two ancient secret societies, the Assassins and the Knights Templar. Unbeknown to him, Cal is descended from an Assassin back in the time of the Spanish Inquisition, a kick-ass warrior named Aguilar de Nerha who is striving to keep an ancient artefact out of the hands of his foes, the Templars.

Assassin's Creed Michael Fassbender Ariane Labed

Left looking silly

Known as the Apple of Eden, this MacGuffin of a relic apparently contains the genetic code for free will. Skip ahead to the present day where Marion Cotillard’s scientist, Dr Sofia Rikkin, is seeking a cure for violence. She wants to yank the object’s location from Cal’s DNA memory and straps him to a giant robotic arm that allows him to act out his ancestor’s deeds.

Sofia’s canny stratagem isn’t a good move for the film, effectively consigning its hero to playing a virtual-reality game. Fassbender is left looking silly. And his illustrious co-stars, including Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling, aren’t much better off. It’s the stunt performers who shoulder the film’s heavy lifting, but their feats are swamped by CGI. Fans of Fassbender’s previous collaboration with co-star Cotillard and director Justin Kurzel, 2015’s brilliant Macbeth, will be disappointed. Fans of the video game probably won’t be that thrilled, either.

Certificate 12. Runtime 115 mins. Director Justin Kurzel

Assassin’s Creed is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from Twentieth Century Fox.

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