A beautiful catastrophe (Assassin’s Creed movie review)

Our world is a stunning and mysterious place. Its history is both – bloody and fascinating, scary and intriguing. People who live or lived here are/were complicated, they like destruction as much as creation, and their hate can be stronger than love (and vice versa).  World, history, and people can be thrilling or beautiful, but also very boring at the same time. “Assassin’s Creed” is based on the beauty of the world, very loose historical inspirations, and fascination with the potential greatness of a human mind, but – above all – it’s a movie that should be described as an anti-movie, because its narration breaks and turns into a fluttering memory of completed plot. Unfortunately, the pointlessness of the action can be justified neither by the fact that Justin Kurzel’s movie is based on the popular game, nor by aesthetics of the times of the liquid postmodernity, in which is better to deconstruct than  construct. The problem is: “Assassin’s Creed” is just a very bad movie with a beautiful visual frame and its badness is not a result of any sophisticated directing concept, but a simple mistake.

Nevertheless, the movie is beautiful. The author of the pictures, brilliant Adam Arkapaw, creates two parallel words that both are alluring and captivating. First one is a reality of ultra-modern laboratory, second – a dark, nightmarish Spain of XIV century. Sometimes it looks like the whole story was created just to take the audience to the wonderful, fascinating trip through the old cathedrals and their nooks and crannies.  The most stunning scenes are centred around the figure of Aguilar (really good Michael Fassbender) – he stands alone on the top of dark, oneiric Madrid and falls down in a very spectacular way.  The scenes of fights are long and made with a flourish, but again – more attractive than dramatic; their beauty is stronger than narrative tension.

It’s important to say that it’s not like Kurzel has directed a pretty box that is empty inside. “Assasin’ s Creed” is stuffed with postmodern, maybe even posthuman, fears, but the thread of insane potential of new technologies that are both – scaring and promising is presented as a typical cliché. Fassbender’s muscular and alluring body becomes a cherry on the top. Fortunately, it’s a very tasty fruit that the director didn’t manage to distort. The main thesis of the movie is – the history of the world is the history of violence. It’s a topic as tempting as dangerous. Tempting – because violence has always been fascinating; dangerous – because it’s very easy to turn this fascination into a naïve and simplifying story. The good advice for the director is – catchy phrases not always go hand by hand with catchy movies. Cinema is not so easy.