Hello there. I am on a plane as you read this. At the time of writing, I am somewhere over Winnipeg. I'm talking to you via the wonder of £25.99 WiFi. I've been very lucky to be invited to cover the Disney D23 Expo in California over the weekend, and although I wouldn't dream of humblebragging my way through this post, it does promise to be very exciting, and I think you'll all agree that, yeah Ali, relax, you deserve this guy, great job. Anyway, before that, I have an 11-hour flight to sit through. Eleven! That's like… four movies! I'm not going to watch four movies. But I did just sit through Assassin's Creed.
There are certain films that can only be watched on a plane. The only acceptable environment in which they can be watched is locked in a highly-pressurised metal tube hurtling through the sky; where your only options are to watch a mildly distracting movie, or to look out the window at clouds. Assassin's Creed narrowly won over clouds. I could have watched Selma, or 20th Century Women, or actual good films, proper ones with storylines and prestige. But fuck that shit: I'm on a plane. Assassin's Creed it is.
Here are some observations on Assassin's Creed from 34,000 ft in the air.
- This film is really fucking weird. It has a kernel of a great idea inside it – we can relive ancestral memories through our DNA, or something, I was briefly mesmerised by clouds so I missed the science part – but it's hidden in a bonkers action/sci-fi/historical epic. Yet it still didn't feel trashy enough. I don't know what I wanted from this movie and I get the impression that no one involved in the making of the movie did either.
- Michael Fassbender does his absolute best to elevate the film's status from 'film you would definitely watch on a plane' to 'film you might even consider watching on land'. But he's slumming it. Some of the dialogue is not befitting a man of his talents, shall we say. Nevertheless, Fassbender always gives his best, although I'm not entirely sure he HAD to spend the last half of the movie shirtless.
- The Animus is a big mechanical contraption that puts you in the memories of your ancestors, so if you're lucky enough to have super-cool assassins in your family tree, it's like the world's most fun VR simulator. (If your family is basically just full of mums and dads doing mum and dad things, the Animus might not be for you.) It takes the form of a big clunky mechanical arm that plugs into Fassbender's neck and around his waist, and it allows him to move in three dimensions – climb, jump, dive etc. But all I could think was, the only thing he couldn't do would be to scratch his arse, because of the big ol' clamp. What if his ancestors were all about getting up in there for a big old bum scratch? Can't hack it. Back to the drawing board.
- Marion Cotillard is straight-up terrible in this movie. She's forced to put on a cut-glass English accent by virtue of the fact she's playing Jeremy Irons' daughter, but it's about as accurate as my attempt to do Marion Cotillard's accent would be. She has one expression on her face throughout: like you just asked her a really stupid question and although she's trying not to show it, she'd really like to be at home eating French onion soup and watching Allo Allo (or whatever it is that French people do in their downtime).
- The concept behind the Animus is twofold – each fold as stupid as the other. We're told at the beginning of the movie that the reason Fassbender is strapped into the Animus is so he can locate 'the Apple of Eden', a little metal doohickey thing that apparently contains the genetic information for free will. (Da Vinci Code exposition alert.) We're told that Cotillard's Doctor Fancypants wants the Apple so she can create a 'cure for violence'. With a straight face and everything. Then we find out Jeremys Iron wants the Apple so he can wipe out the Assassin's Creed and rule the world with his mates, the Knights Templar, yada yada yada. Hey guys, can you find a cure for this? (*gives middle finger to laptop*)
- Flight status update: I am currently over Regina. LOL.
- Michael K Williams is a very fine actor who hasn't been in a single good movie since The Wire. Is that fair? That doesn't feel fair. No one knows what to do with him. He is a man of huge talent that is never less than fascinating and yet almost always totally wasted in whatever he's in. Remember him in Ghostbusters? Me neither. Here he plays a latent assassin man who just sort of lounges around in a dressing gown for about an hour, then upgrades to a hood. Please someone, write a brilliant movie role for Michael K Williams. If you don't then I will and then it'll be terrible and I'll prove my own point.
- Jeremy Irons is such a lazy choice for a villain. Well done, guys. Slow hand clap. You cast fucking Scar. How on Earth did you come up with that idea? It's so leftfield! You cast the man who looks like he's always up to evil deeds as a man who is always up to evil deeds? How daring!
- The fight scenes are pretty slick, but you're never really allowed to enjoy the historical stuff due to the director's insistence on splicing scenes of Fassbender in the present day fighting nothing into the action. Like, you'll be watching his assassin equivalent doing some cool neck-stabbing or wall-running or parkour and you'll totally be into it, then suddenly there's a two-second insert of Fassbender wearing a t-shirt, swinging around on a big metal arm. And it's always accompanied by a robotic 'Vrrrrr!' sound, so you remember it's mechanical. LET ME ENJOY 1492, PLEASE. Commit to your central concept, you mugs.
- This film doesn't have an ending. It literally doesn't have an ending. You get a semi-exciting action sequence that promises much in the way of carnage, but it wimps out and ends on a shot of Fassbender on a rooftop in London – a rooftop which, presumably, he climbed up in a cumbersome fashion beforehand, and will have to clumsily climb his way down again after the credits have started. Him and his assassin friends do that silent look to each other, then out to the world, that seems to say 'I am thinking about how our adventures will likely continue, say, in a sequel'. Ha ha. No. Off the roof with you.
- Justin Kurzel is a smashing director and Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are superb actors and I'm sure the Assassin's Creed videogames are big barrels of fun, but man, I've never been so bored by a movie about people with knives up their sleeves in my entire life. I don't know how you'd make this movie differently, but I do know that it is only tolerable when watched on a commercial airliner, where the only other options are a map screen and your own eyelids.
Flight status: I am bored of giving you flight statuses. I'm going to watch The Edge Of Seventeen. Bye!