The Beckenham Odeon is a depressing place on a damp January Sunday afternoon. The staff look tired, the lobby is windswept and bare, the pick ‘n’ mix is simultaneously garish and faded, dusty and grubby with fingerprints from hungry, obese hands.
The screening room is dark and gloomy thus hiding the pee stains and sticky fizzy pop swimming on the floor, the bits of hot dog stuffed between the seats, the Premier seats distinctly uninviting. The magic of cinema seems a long way away and lost in the fug of time.
It’s hardly the best environment to see a great film and Assassin’s Creed is anything but a great film.
It is based on the computer game of the same name: I’ve never played but my son does and it seems like most other games – lots of running and jumping and killing and not much of a story. Which is the same as the film really.
For the first half hour or so I had absolutely no idea what was going on and that didn’t change much as the film progressed inexorably. It is the usual nonsense story involving the Knights Templars – what does everyone have against the Knights Templars? Dan Brown was much exercised by them – they’re universal baddies for some reason.
Anyway, Michael Fassbender plays a man on death row who is about to be executed for an unspecified crime but not killing his mother which was done by his father at the beginning although why is not clear. Strapped to the gurney we see the death row drugs start to flow but he then wakes up in a sort of hospital ward (although nicer than the average NHS Hospital) with an attractive but not beautiful female (of course) doctor leaning over him. He then stumbles around for a bit before they take him to a big room and attach him to a mechanical contraption like a big octopus arm and strap those gauntlets to his arms – the sort where a knife springs out. There’s then a lot of computer graphics and looking at screens before he lands in Andalucia in 1492 dressed as an assassin. We then have lots of running and jumping and knifing of unspecified baddies as he searches for the apple of Eden which apparently has survived for over 5000 years or whenever Adam took his bite and is now hidden in Spain. Who knew? And Michael Fassbender – who is the direct descendant of this assassin – regresses and has been sent by the good female doctor to find the apple and bring it back so that the Knights Templar (yes, them) can extract the DNA from it which is what gave people free will and thereby eliminate violence from the world (although what the Knights Templars get out of that is never explained).
Now I ask you. Is this not the most arrant nonsense you have ever heard?
Every now and again the film cuts back to the present day where a load of villains and murderers are locked up in the same hospital. Apparently they are not prisoners although they are surrounded by guards – go figure. Amongst them is Michael White who is far too good an actor to get involved in this and should have known better. Also there is Fassbender’s father (he who slew his mother) and the good doctor’s father (who is played by Jeremy Irons and you therefore know he’s a wrong ‘un) gives Fassbender the knife that the father used to slay the mother and says to him now, go and kill your father. Now, here’s the thing (or one of them). At the incomprehensible beginning of the film the young Fassbender is living in New Mexico and his father is clearly an American. But when he turns around in the hospital it’s Brendan Gleeson who the last time I heard is Irish as the day is long. Why?
Anyway, Fassbender doesn’t kill him (not sure why).
There is then a lot more running and jumping and killing of baddies in Andalusia by Fassbender which is well-choreographed and shot but goes on a bit. It’s all filmed in that misty, smoky, filtered fog that lots of films are shot in these days which makes it difficult to follow but helps to disguise the CGI.
Eventually Fassbender finds the apple and goes to Cadiz and gives it to Christopher Columbus for safe-keeping. At this point the good lady doctor gets bored with all this Andalucia business and brings Fassbender back to the present at which point all the murderers and villains rise up and beat up their guards just like in an English prison while the good doctor and her evil father escape in a helicopter. The good lady doctor and her wicked father have figured out that Columbus must have taken the apple to America and then brought it back to be buried with him in Seville cathedral. So they go to the cathedral where a priest opens a box and gives them the apple – just like that. Now, you ask yourself – why didn’t they do that in the first place instead of bothering with all this Andalucia business in 1492? Meanwhile the murderers and villains are doing – what? Who knows.
The bad doctor then goes to the Knights Templar Grand High Temple which is in London (and looks suspiciously like Freemason’s Hall) to present it to all the other Knights who are dressed in robes and hoods (as you do). The Head Knight is a woman (of course) and is played by Charlotte Rampling (who used to be an actor) as a cross between Theresa May and Lord Voldemort. Fassbender (for it is he) is also disguised in a robe as are all the other murderers and villains (conveniently) and comes up behind Jeremy Irons and cuts his throat and takes the apple. At which point there is a big kerfuffle and we then see the Assassins standing on the roof of a high building having recovered the apple and thereby paving the way for a sequel.
Capsule review – Assassin’s Creed is possibly the worst film ever made. Why make a film of a computer game anyway? Even my son thought it was rubbish.
It’s one of those films where lots of people get killed but no-one gets hurt. When Jeremy Irons has his throat cut there isn’t a drop of blood. The assassins aren’t supposed to be supermen but they seem able to jump off 100 foot towers and land safely on the ground.
To be honest, I quite enjoyed the action sequences and the holes in the plot are only obvious when it’s all over. The action sequences are well-filmed and lots of stunt men got some work for a while.
Footnote: Throughout the film the nerdy lads sitting next to me consumed a whole bucket of popcorn. Rustle, rustle, chomp, chomp. Rustle, rustle, chomp, chomp was my constant sound-track together with the acrid smell of half-digested, greasy popcorn which filled the cinema. I think I may have enjoyed that more than the film.