I read mixed reviews on this movie, so wasn’t sure if I wanted to pick up this movie myself. I ultimately went ahead and ordered it, and I was glad I did.
First, a disclaimer - the stories within this movie and the Assassin’s Creed games are fiction. As the opening disclaimer in the game reads: “Inspired by historical events and characters. This work of fiction was designed, developed, and produced by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs.” Don’t get upset if either the movie or the games misrepresent historical events or organizations and their motivations. It’s fiction.
Some spoilers for those who have never played the games (skip to the paragraph with the two asterisks if you do not want to read the spoilers):
The story revolves around an ongoing war between two secret societies: The Assassin’s and The Templars. The basic idea is that the Templars wish to achieve peace in the world through order (their order of course), and the Assassin’s basically fight to maintain people’s freedom. Those aligned with the Templars in present day have established a company called Abstergo which has developed computer technology that allows users the ability to relive our ancestor’s memories. In the video game, this is achieved through a computer program with VR technology called the Animus. In the movie, the Animus has been reimagined as a hulking machine with an arm that connects to the user, allowing them to perform many of their ancestor’s maneuvers firsthand. The idea behind the Animus remains the same, though. Abstergo has found certain people are best suited to relive these memories, and a direct descendant to the specific ancestor can provide the best connection (or synchronization, as they refer to it).
Now some spoilers for the movie:
The movie centers on a character named Cal Lynch, who supposedly is a direct descendant to Aguilar (who lived in the late 1400s), the last person on record as having possession of the “Apple of Eden”, a device said to have caused man’s first disobedience. The Templars want the device, because with it, they believe they can remove people’s free will, bringing peace to the world through order. Cal, a man with a troubled childhood and prone to violence, is brought to Abstergo against his will and is hooked up to the Animus so he can relive the memories of Aguilar to see where he hid the Apple of Eden (so the Templars will know where to find it in present day). Since he is at Abstergo against his will, gradually learning why he is there, he struggles with both helping them and enduring the Animus itself (evidently being hooked up to the device unwillingly can cause some mental side effects).
* * Now my review on the movie. I thought the story was done well. Obviously with an origin movie (especially one with the complexities like the story behind the Assassin’s Creed franchise), there is going to be a lot of dialog to help explain the organizations, characters, and events in the games. That said, I wish there were less scenes that takes place in present day, and more action scenes in the past. The scenes from 1492 are amazing! I especially liked some of the references to the games (such as the wagons of hay, the eagle screech as Aguilar performs a leap of faith, etc). I did notice several instances throughout the movie where the scene would freeze for effect. Micheal Jackson would do the same in his performances, and called it “sizzle”. The idea was to build up the audience’s anticipation for what was to come, but in the movie, to me it breaks the pace of the movie, slowing it down, and making it feel more drawn out (and making the movie feel longer than it is).
In the end, for the price, it’s a nice movie to add to your collection, but if you are even remotely unsure how you’ll like the movie, I’d recommend renting the movie first. I hope they make another movie. Now with the origin story established, they can concentrate more on the scenes that take place in the past.