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Assasin’s Creed ***

One of the best videogame adaptations to cinema. Or probably the best. Yes, it is possible that from this moment the tomatoes begin to rain in this direction and some will attack my opinion, although it does not really matter too much. My job is to be honest with myself and the readers, and tell them what I think. And in this case also from the point of view of the followers of one of the most important video game sagas of the last fifteen years, loved by some, hated by others, but a reference in industry and, with some really brilliant games, especially in the second installment and its aftermath, when we took charge of the story of Ezio Auditore in Renaissance Italy, with a history full of nuances, betrayals, revenge and conspiracies, in the eternal fight between Assassins And Templars. And you have to take into account all that because Justin Kurzel, the director, has made the adaptation of a video game more different, risky and brave than I remember. What's more, it's one of the most risky blockbusters that comes to mind and so it's worth taking a look, even though it's not perfect.

Justin Kurzel is a strange director, capable of directing a film as different as his Macbeth, where he also had Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard as protagonists, and where he did not have the budget he handles in this film, but he provided us with a film very different from what everyone expected. Here he does something similar. Assassin's Creed is cryptic, is different, complex in many ways, although its plot is simple, and it is in part because it assumes that the viewer is a regular player of the saga and they will understand all the references and hidden messages that he has prepared for us during the movie. And as a fan, that is very enjoyable, although the character of Callum Lynch and Aguilar de Nerja, his ancestor, both played by Michael Fassbender, are new in this franchise. It does not matter. Either Kurzel is a player or he has been very well informed about the game (yes, it has changed the Animus, but that's the least important thing), and to understand it, you just have to see the macguffin in the movie, The Apple of Eden, something that will surely mislead many casual viewers, but the fans are going to thank him a lot. Or they should.

The story is similar to some games, of course, but incorporates an element previously not visited by developers, Spain of the Inquisition, with Torquemada at the head. Callum Lynch is a man who saw, as a child, his mother die at the hands of his father, and who now expects to be executed in the Death Corridor. When that happens, she awakens in a laboratory in Madrid, of the Abstergo Industries, where Sofia (Marion Cotillard) explains that he has died for the rest of the world, but that there, he can be of help. If he connects with the Animus, he can relive the experiences of his ancestor, a member of a strange secret society of Assassins always at war against the Templars (the former seek the freedom of man, while the latter want to control the violent impulses for what they need Apple mentioned above), who was the last to know the whereabouts of the Apple. In the proccess Callum will learn not only what it means to be an Assassin and his creed, but what is hidden in his distant and recent past, full of secrets and lies. A story that could have left the game perfectly and that is so simple in its approach, as cryptic in its development.

For example, Kurzel has had a number of actors from our country, to give life to the Spain of the Inquisition of 1492, between Seville and Granada, with Javier Gutiérrez as Torquemada, Hovik Keuchkerian as his second in command and Carlos Bardem as the mentor of Aguilar de Nerja. And he could have made everyone speak English to accommodate the issue to the international public and especially the American. Well, no. He decides to be historically consistent and everyone speaks Spanish, including Fassbender (very dignified) and his partner in the past, played by Ariane Labed. Almost half of the film in Castilian... That’s risky. Or the resolution of certain action scenes (the assault on the courtyard in Granada) that instead of doing pirouettes begins between smoke with ... well, see it for yourself, which is different but is a tribute to the game. Or the leaps of faith. Or the photography of the film. Or the dialogues. Or not fully explain many things and let the viewer discover it for themselves or bring it learned from home (the origin of man, without going further... taken out of the game). It almost seems like a blockbuster directed by Tarkovsky at times. Like Macbeth.

That has its complications. It is not an easily accessible movie and either you love it or you hate it, there will not be much middle ground. Its difficulty makes it brave and risky, but sometimes it is too risky, and sometimes it does not work. There is a character who, in the end, changes his mind too often inexplicably, that of Jeremy Irons lacks development, and that of Brendan Gleeson is poorly exploited. There was potential for even better things, with another script rewrite that left no half-baked ideas, no matter how much the start of a possible film franchise this is. There are issues that remain too outstanding and characters that are not exploited. And while many fans will applaud until their hands burn certain moments, the common viewer may found it hard to understand. That is the risk, but with so much cloned films and others without personality, Assassin's Creed stands out just the opposite. For having personality, a lot, for being visually fascinating, for possibly being the best adaptation of a video game to the cinema, and for laying the foundations, failed or not, of a new approach to blockbusters. And by the way, those who have played the game, we’ll have a blast.

Jesus Usero

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