Who could have expected this? The embargo on the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed movie has broken, and the curse of the videogame movie continues. At press time, the film stands at 16% on Rotten Tomatoes (with an average score of 3.8/10) and 37/100 on Metacritic. The Rotten Tomatoes “Critic’s Consensus” is clever and evocative, as per usual, giving the movie props for its cast, but still calls it a “joylessly overplotted slog.”
If you’re still going to see it — either out of morbid curiosity or because you liked director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth, also starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard — you should at least know what you’re getting into. A review from The Verge’s Adi Robertson has the highest score, recorded by Metacritic as a 68/100. Robertson writes:
“Assassin’s Creed’s creators have the courage to always take themselves seriously, even when they’re working with material that sounds fundamentally silly. There’s no great leap of faith in Assassin’s Creed, but a surprising amount of the time, it at least finds steady footing.”
The harshest scored review comes from Slant Magazine’s Aaron Ricco, who gives it 0.5 stars out of four, (or 12/100 in Metacritic-speak). Ricco writes:
“In splitting its focus between two timelines, Assassin’s Creed ends up with both blurry action that often looks digitally faked and a fractious plot that’s stuck over-explaining itself. It fails both as a science-fiction thriller and historical action film.”
My beloved AV Club also comes through with a middling review from Jesse Hassenger, who gave the film a C-. Don’t worry Ubisoft, as I told myself numerous times in my college career, a C is still technically a passing grade!
“[Fassbender and Cotillard] have such adult intensity that their participation in a juvenile fantasy becomes a source of bizarre fascination—for a little while, anyway. Assassin’s Creed pushes their charisma to the limits, then stabs it bloodlessly and jumps off a building.”
Peter Bradshaw, of The Guardian, said the film achieved “transcendental boredom,” giving it one star out of five. Bradshaw’s review is a scathing, well-articulated takedown with shades of latter-day Roger Ebert. I highly recommend reading it, especially if you’re into film criticism as an art form.
“Marion Cotillard says in her doom-laden accent: “Prepare the animus”; and it sounds worryingly like “Prepare the enemas”. There is no animus in this film, however. It’s rare to see a film quite so lacking in animus.”
This being a videogame movie, plenty of reviews either deride the film as feeling less authentic than its digital counterpart or recommend viewers just go play the games instead. The now-standard resentment film critics have towards the games industry remains on full display, but there are recurring patterns in even the tech-friendly reviews — Assassin’s Creed has underdeveloped characters and overdeveloped action, resulting in a film that isn’t worth now-inflated ticket prices.