The Templar Order seeks the eradication of free will while the shadowy Assassins preach moral irrelevance in “Assassin’s Creed.” Philosophy professors and average moviegoers alike may wonder: These are the choices? Social control versus a vacuum of values?
If you’re looking for logic, you’ve come to the wrong place. Like so many movies based on video games, “Assassin’s Creed,” spawned by the hugely popular Ubisoft franchise, takes place in a convoluted, shakily defined world that exists solely as a backdrop for avatars to wield cool weapons and engage in ninja-style bad-assery. In the game-to-film genre — which includes such memorable disasters as “Silent Hill” and “Hitman 47” — this is yet another disorganized, incoherent, nearly unwatchable entry.
It’s elevated slightly by top-notch actors, although their reasons for showing up in this are a mystery. Michael Fassbender, a blue-eyed, soulful actor already attached to a perfectly successful franchise (“X-Men”), plays Cal Lynch, a Texas convict who undergoes lethal injection but wakes up in a sprawling, futuristic laboratory. There, Fassbender meets two even better actors: Marion Cotillard as Dr. Sofia Rikken, and Jeremy Irons as her father, also a scientist. This cast is so good we often forget that we have no idea what they’re talking about.
“Violence is a disease — like cancer,” says Sofia, whose elaborate plan has something to do with sending Cal back into time (through his ancestors’ memories using a device called The Animus) to search for the Apple of Eden, which has the power to return Man to his original, blissfully ignorant state. Why Cal agrees, and why he eventually rebels, are never satisfactorily explained. Our only reward for staying in our seats is some semi-enjoyable parkour gymnastics across the rooftops of 15th century Spain. (The choppy direction is by Justin Kurzel, working off a three-person screenplay.)
By the time the great Charlotte Rampling and Brendan Gleeson show up, the novelty of watching high-caliber actors play low-rent roles has long since worn off. “Assassin’s Creed” talks a lot about law and morality, but it disobeys the single most important commandment of moviemaking: Thou shalt not bore.