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Assassin’s Creed

In 2016 two films illustrated the fundamental problems inherent in bringing video game stories to the big screen. In theory Duncan Jones’ Warcraft should have made an easy transition. The game’s story of constant war between rival clans is the stuff of adventure movies and fantasy epics. Yet gamers love the world of ‘Warcraft’ not so much for its fantasy elements, but for the freedom it gives them to play with strategy. Without the game’s two selling points – the mental thrill of tactical work paid off by the visceral enjoyment of combat gameplay – viewers are left with a sub-Tolkien setting and a poor, rather clichéd story. Crafting a straightforward narrative film out of ‘Warcraft’ was always misguided precisely because it misunderstands what makes the game so popular. At the other end of the spectrum, Hardcore Henry presented another serious issue. As a first-person shooter with a pixel-thin plot holding together an endless stream of actions sequences, the film plays out like a live-action recreation of ‘Doom’. While there is much to admire in the film’s dedication to its central conceit, many viewers quickly grew tired of this gimmick. It simply failed to connect with audiences, who evidently preferred to play ‘Doom’ themselves or else were alienated by the film’s visual style. Assassin’s Creed occupies the uneasy space between these two films. A film version of a game which is ostensibly a third-person shooter, it doesn’t fulfil its action potential and is burdened by a needlessly complex story. Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender), a criminal on death row, is saved by the mysterious Abstergo Industries, an organisation led by Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) and his daughter Sophia (Marion Cotillard). Sophia’s personal project, a device called ‘the Animus,’ allows Callum to relive the memories of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha, an Assassin fighting the Spanish Inquisition. The goal of this virtual time travel is to locate the Adam’s Apple, an artefact ...