There’s no reason Assassin’s Creed couldn’t have made for a good videogame adaptation. The source material – a mix of old-timey assassin antics and futuristic virtual-reality nonsense – is amorphous enough to accommodate pretty much any action-packed storyline you can think of, while the talents collected to bring the game to the screen are, well, talented. With the likes of Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons in front of the camera and Justin Kurzel – who, if nothing else, has an eye for stark spectacle – surely this should’ve been at least watchable?
Nope. Assassin’s Creed is a disaster: a morass of muddled imagery, incoherent plotting and dreadful screenwriting. Slender moments of humanity, like tears welling up in the eyes of convicted killer Cal Lynch (Fassbender), are overwhelmed by a screenplay that gestures towards centuries-long conflict without ever establishing personal stakes. The action scenes lack any engaging sense of space and are rendered inconsequential by their position in the narrative – a replay of events that have already occurred. The wider mythology is rendered incomprehensible by dire dialogue, delivered by incredible actors who can’t make the expository, clunky lines sound anything but ridiculous. This New Year’s Day, friends don’t let friends watch Assassin’s Creed.