This movie is kind of a mess, despite the A-list actors and the
favorable Christmas release. It's
based on a popular video game, where the characters are woefully
underdeveloped so that we can get right down to the business of
knocking off the bad guys, who just seem to keep coming, but
conveniently, one at a time, so our hero can dispatch them quickly,
and almost bloodlessly.
Two-time Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender plays Cal Lynch, who,
as a little boy, walks in on his Dad murdering his Mom.
He runs away while the authorities take away his Dad, and now,
as an adult, we find him in prison for murder.
It seems there was a series of disastrous foster home
placements and then juvenile detention and then the almost-predictable
adult incarceration. But
in his prison cell, Lynch is drawing pictures of medieval figures,
because, as it turns out, he's a direct descendant of the famous
Aguilar, a Spanish warrior of the late 15 century.
(Despite the Christian themes now revealed, it's a kind of
reincarnation that feels more Buddhist.)
Lynch is selected for a special government research project
that involves using an Animus to unlock his genetic memories, so that
in his mind, he becomes Aguilar. Now
we switch back to 1492, where Ferdinand and Isabella are on the
Spanish throne, getting ready to commission the Italian Christopher
Columbus to sail across the wide ocean to see what's on the other side
(after they finish defeating the Moors).
Aguilar, it turns out, is a member of an elite group of
Assassins who actually consider themselves the good guys, because they
are attempting to disrupt the stranglehold of the Knights Templar,
which has pervaded the medieval Catholic Church, as well (yeah, get
ready for more fuzzy ecclesiastics).
The treasure they are all fighting to possess is the Eden
apple, yes, the one Eve famously gave to Adam, because it contains
free will, and therefore represents humanity's freedom of choice.
So to withold it is to make people unable not to sin?
(Augustine's classical theological argument encapsulated in a
Faberge egg knockoff?)
The modern twist here is that a renowned research scientist,
Dr. Sofia Rikkin (Oscar winner Marion Cotillard), is trying to find
out exactly where the somehow-not-dessicated-apple is now located.
It seems she believes that if she possesses it, she thinks she
can put an end to evil, because she will have eliminated all bad
decisions, and humanity can be peaceful again, like in the Garden of
Eden, originally. Well,
Marion Cotillard is beautiful enough to make Michael Fassbender want
to please her and do what she asks, but she's incredibly underutilized
in this role, as his her father, played by Oscar winner Jeremy Irons,
who, it turns out, is actually one of the Knights Templar, eager to
take over the Apple himself, which just might be interred with
Christopher Columbus inside a cathedral?
And when it's exposed to the sunlight, it gleams like metal and
starts radiating light of its own?
Well, never mind the convoluted plot.
It's all really just an excuse for almost non-stop video
violence, which is fairly convincing, as are the costumes and set for
15th-century Spain. But
wouldn't it have been more interesting to have pursued the Christopher
Columbus angle, and leave the Knights Templar stuff to Dan Brown's
novels and the Masons' liturgies?
As it is, this film is like watching someone else play a video
game that makes no sense and has no rationale:
a violent ballet with practiced form but no discernible