[Screen It]


(2016) (Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard) (PG-13)

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Action: A murderer sentenced to death in the modern day discovers he descends from an ancient group of Assassins charged with protecting the world from the evil Templars, who are still active today.
In 2016, Callum "Cal" Lynch (MICHAEL FASSBENDER) is a convicted murder who is about to die via lethal injection. But he wakes up from his execution in a strange facility run by a powerful corporation. He is under the care of a scientist named Sofia (MARION COTILLARD), who tells him that he descends from an ancient race of warriors known as Assassins who defend the world from the power-hungry Knights Templar.

She hooks him up to a contraption known as the Animus, which allows Cal to "regress" back to his 15th century ancestor Aguilar (also FASSBENDER) for the purposes of finding out where this Assassin hid the mythic Apple of Eden, a magic orb that can control humanity's free will.

After discovering his father, Joseph (BRENDAN GLEESON), has also been held in the same secret facility ever since killing Cal's mother (ESSIE DAVIS) 30 years earlier, it's not long before Cal figures out that Sofia and the head of the corporation, her father, Rikkin (JEREMY IRONS), are up to no good. He eventually teams with Moussa (MICHAEL KENNETH WILLIAMS) and two other prisoners who also hail from the Assassins of yore to mount an escape.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
For movies that were not screened for review prior to release (at least not in the geographic market where this reviewer is based), we provide only a few paragraphs of critical analysis.

"Assassin's Creed" is one of those deeply self-serious movies based on a series of popular video games where if the uninitiated -- er, me -- dares to ask even one or two simple logic questions throughout, you halfway believe an evil overlord voice will ring down from above with a good, hearty "SILENCE!" If you are compelled to see this movie, it's better to just not question or protest. Just endure it. Because, man, is this joyless, dreary actioner a chore to slog through!

The games and the movie are set in a fictional history of real-world events and follow the centuries-old clashes between the Assassins, who fight for peace and defend humanity's right to free will, and the Knights Templar, who desire peace through global thought control and the eradication of free will. Sigh. Remember when video games used to be about getting the little frog across the road without being hit by a truck? Or trying to rescue a damsel in distress while hurdling barrels tossed by a giant monkey?

Now, usually, this is the kind of fare that I sit down and review and the cast includes folks like Scott Speedman, Kate Beckinsale, Aaron Eckhart, and Milla Jovovich -- talented performers, whose agents from to time seem to hate them. But "Assassin's Creed" features two-time Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender, Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons, and three-time Golden Globe nominee Brendan Gleeson! It's directed by Justin Kurzel, who helmed the well-received "Macbeth" last year (also starring Fassbender and Cotillard).

What the hay?!

The movie centers on Callum "Cal" Lynch (Fassbender), a convicted murderer in the present day who is sentenced to death by lethal injection. He is spared by a mysterious corporation headed by Rikkin (Irons) and his scientist daughter Sofia (Cotillard), who tell him that he descends from a long line of warriors known as Assassins that have done battle with the power-hungry Templars for centuries. They've developed a contraption that will enable Cal to "regress" back to his 15th century ancestor Aguilar (also Fassbender) and possibly locate the hiding place of the Apple of Eden, a magic orb that contains "the seed of mankind's first disobedience."

Populated by mostly British and French actors, the corporation turns out to be completely evil and wants the Apple to literally wipe out humanity's free will. And when Cal finds out, it is on like Donkey Kong! Er, well, you know. The whole story becomes increasingly muddled the longer this mish-mash of "The Matrix" and "The Da Vinci Code" goes on. There are a couple of crackling good and quite lengthy action sequences in this flick. But, for the most part, this is a leaden bore that you'll want to call "Game over!" on long before the end credits roll. I give it a 3 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed December 20, 2016 / Posted December 21, 2016

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