Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Other Creed

What does it say about us that we loved Assassin's Creed (2016)? I mean, Warcraft is one thing, but this? Sure, and I'll tell you why.

It starts in Spain, 1492, the Reconquista. A new Assassin gets his finger chopped off so that he can use a special blade (this seems inconvenient, but I'm not a master assassin). His job will be to protect the Sultan of Granada from the Templars, who want the MacGuffin that he has. Yes, in this movie, the Muslim (originally) Assassins are the good guys, the Christians are the bad guys. Plus, it's got Assassins - real old-fashioned "Nothing is forbidden, everything is permitted", Old-Man-of-the-Mountain Assassins. Cool.

In present day Mexico (?), a boy finds his mother dead, while Patsy Cline sings "Crazy" on the radio. His father appears, wearing a hood and tells him to "live in the shadows". Years later, we meet him again in prison (Michael Fassbender), being executed by lethal injection - a tense and terrifying scene. But beautiful Marion Cotillard wakes him up in a lovely medical facility. "Is this heaven?", he asks?

This is an old Assassin trick - drug a follower with hashish, take him to a beautiful spot full of food, women, and booze, tell him he's in heaven and he can get back if he dies in their service. At least that's the story Marco Polo told about them. But that isn't the game Cotillard is up to.

She and her father (Jeremy Irons) are Templars, and Fassbender is the descendant of the Assassin from 1492. They have a gizmo that will regress him back in time - he will find out what his ancestor did with the MacGuffin, and then they can - dare we say it? Rule the world!

That's a lot of set up, but it is a 2-hour movie. It isn't all exposition either - there's lots of running, jumping, and fighting. I know nothing about the game this movie is (loosely?) based on, but I understand that leaps from high places have some importance. So we get several of those.

Plus the whole thing is beautifully photographed. It looks like everything was shot at Golden Hour, through clouds of dust, haze, or smoke. It was almost a failing: you know how some movies are shot so dark, you can't tell what's going on? This one's so hazy you sometimes get the same effect.

On some level, I guess I can admit this isn't a great movie - it's a silly action movie based on a computer game. But it's so much better than it needed to be. It's got an oddball story line, some great actors, and fine cinematography along with some exciting action. It's got everything we like.

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