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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Even before his mother's murder, Cal Lynch had a tendency to run around as a boy doing reckless, self-destructive things. After she was killed—by his own father no less—all the stops were pulled. And then his life just tumbled off sideways into one violent disaster after another.

What Cal didn't know, however, was that all of his violent compulsion wasn't just a tragic byproduct of his parents' horrible circumstances. Oh, no. It was all actually programed into his very fiber, into his DNA. He was born from generations of Assassins, a bloodline that stretched back centuries.

Now, that may be hard to understand for the average Joe. But there are some—such as the brilliant doctor Sofia Rikkin—who know it to be true. Sofia is well aware of an ongoing battle down through the ages between the order of the Knights Templar and those who swore by an Assassin's Creed.

Their multi-century struggle centers around an ancient artifact known as the Apple of Eden. It's said this device contains a genetic code, a kind of volitional programming that determines all of mankind's free will. Whether that description is hyperbolic exaggeration or not isn't important to Sofia. She simply believes that finding this artifact may well lead to a cure, of sorts, for the rampant violence savaging our world.

And Cal is the key to it all.

With a machine she designed called the Animus, Sofia can tap into a subject's multi-generational genetic memory. Through it, she and her staff can literally sync-up with the memories of the subject's ancestors and piece together a revelation of the past. It's worked so far with other test subjects. And now it's led her to Cal.

Cal's ancestor, a man named Aguilar, was the last known person to have access to the Apple back at some point in 1492. All Sofia needs to do is hook Cal up to the Animus and trace his genetic memories to locate the ancient prize.

The only complication is that Sofia must somehow convince Cal to strap into the machine of his own free will. Because otherwise, as they've seen with numerous subjects, the experience will likely drive him quite mad.

Positive Elements

Though there are others who would use the Apple of Eden for their own power-hungry reasons, Sofia is pursuing her goals because she's convinced it will help humanity. And she truly believes that the device can cure Cal of his inherited violent tendencies.

That said, Cal eventually realizes he must fight Sofia's efforts in order to save mankind's "free will" from the evil grasp of the Knight's Templar …

Spiritual Content

… a group that supposedly represents a secretive, militant arm of the Catholic church. Though the film doesn't stray too far into discussions of spirituality, it clearly depicts the Catholic Church as an evil, scheming organization that has long desired to steal humanity's free will and force the world to obey its understanding of what constitutes right and wrong.

It is stated that the Apple artifact contains the "seed of mankind's first disobedience," thereby suggesting that the church leaders believe that it was disobedience to God that originally created free will. In turn, the Templars believe that usurping that free will is a just cause since "mankind cannot be redeemed." How this glowing device works, where it came from, why it was created, or what it actually contains, however, is never actually revealed. Elsewhere, Templar thugs and killers have or wear crosses.

The Assassins, for their part, swear loyalty to their titular creed in a religious-like ceremony of their own, part of which states that "nothing is true" and "everything is permitted." In one scene, Cal is in prison and about to be executed. A priest is ushered in and prays that God might "wash away his sins." Afterward, Cal spits, "Tell my father I'll see him in Hell."

In a vision during his tethering to the Animus, Cal talks to some of his ghost-like ancestors, including his mother. A priest justifies public execution, twisting Scripture into God's supposed demand for someone's fiery death.

Sexual Content

In the past, it's apparent that Aguilar and another female assassin have a relationship of some kind. They briefly embrace and kiss. At one point, Cal removes his shirt and straps himself into the Animus. We also see him tumbling and flexing while shirtless.

Violent Content

There is a steady stream of thumping, slashing and death-dealing throughout this actioner. The gore, however, is kept in check by camera angles or by strategic editing just before the expected gush.

During Aguilar's time, we see a man stabbed and slashed up close. A woman drives an assailant's blade into her own neck, and we watch as she bleeds out. Numerous war scenes rage with clashing swords and fiery explosions while the air is filled with crossbow bolts. Victims are burned at the stake. Many, many people are stabbed with swords and small blades strapped to assassins' wrists. One large man is slashed a dozen times or so in a battle before he finally succumbs. Heads get pounded into walls, limbs are impaled. We see one Assassin devotee allowing his finger to be cut off in a loyalty ceremony.

Back in the present, groups of people punch and beat each other. Cal's mom drives an assassin's blade into her own throat (an act that, like the one mentioned above, is evidence of her radical, self-sacrificial commitment to the cause). A man's throat is slashed. People are tackled, tasered and whacked with clubs. A boy rides his bike off a rooftop in a stunt, but misses the mark, crashes to the ground and ends up with cuts and scratches on his face.

Cal has a sharp-looking epidural needle painfully shoved into the back of his neck. He experiences visions of savage attackers running at him with blades. And he flies into a violent, body-wracking seizure while hooked into the Animus.

Crude or Profane Language

A lone f-word.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Cal has a needle stuck into his arm, and we watch what we think is a lethal drug flow into him. He's also hit with a knock-out dart.

Other Negative Elements

The Templars kidnap an innocent boy, killing his protectors in the process, then demand ransom from his father.

Conclusion

If you're familiar with the Assassin's Creed videogame franchise, you'll recognizing its DNA all over this movie. The parkour running and flipping—up ancient stone walls and over 15th-century rooftops—makes you feel like you ought to be sitting in your theater seat with a game controller in hand. Those acrobatic leaps and intricately choreographed sword battles all look very cool indeed.

That doesn't make this a good movie, however.

A-listers Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard certainly give it their all, but there's very little here to give their all to. Like the game, this violent story and its convoluted theological underpinnings are absolutely nonsensical.

Most viewers will understand that the film is at least trying to say something about the idea of free will. And if they're really paying attention, some might even notice the story's flirtations with nihilism floating beneath its sci-fi glitz and its obvious anti-faith sneer. But even those insightful few will ultimately find this flick and its Catholicism-bashing story to be little more than an indecipherable philosophical mess. And a violent one, too.

Between its tortured logic and its fatalistic view of religion, Assassin's Creed does little more than kill off a couple of hours that might have been better used.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Michael Fassbender as Cal Lynch/Aguilar; Marion Cotillard as Dr. Sofia Rikkin; Jeremy Irons as Dr. Alan Rikkin; Brendan Gleeson as Joseph Lynch; Charlotte Rampling as Ellen Kaye

Director

Justin Kurzel ( )

Distributor

20th Century Fox

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

December 21, 2016

On Video

March 21, 2017

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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