(director: Justin Kurzel; screenwriters: Bill Collage, Adam Cooper, Michael Lesslie/based on the video game series created by Corey May & Patrice Désilets; cinematographer: Adam Arkapaw ; editor: Christopher Tellefsen; music: Jed Kurzel; cast: Michael Fassbender (Callum Lynch/Aguilar), Essie Davis (Cal’s mom), Brendan Gleeson (Joseph Lynch), Charlotte Rampling (Ellen Kaye), Jeremy Irons (Rikkin), Marion Cotillard (Sofia), Michael K. Williams(Moussa); Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Patrick Crowley/Jean-Julien Baronnet/Frank Marshall/Conor McCaughan;/Arnon Michan/Gérard Guillemot/Michael Fassbender; 20th Century Fox; 2016)

“I never connected with this disorienting and drab time-traveling video game movie.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

I never connected with this disorienting and drab time-traveling video game movie, that’s awkwardly directed by the Shakespearean filmmaker from Australia, Justin Kurzel (“Snowtown”/”Macbeth”). Previously the director and the co-stars, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, worked together on a tolerably good Macbeth (2015). The trio go from a high-brow classic to a low-brow mediocre juvenile action movie that might only suit gamers. It seems odd this film was shot for $150 million but still looks like crap. It comes with a messy screenplay by writers Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, and puzzling editing by Christopher Tellefsen.

We are told that the Temple Order has held the Apple at the Garden of Eden for centuries, hoping it will lead them to know the secrets of free will and to control their population’s thoughts. In 1492, during the Spanish Inquisition, the Knights Templar were after their opponents, the secret society of Assassins. They now possess the relic and show that they will use violent means to protect that object from their rival’s pursuit. Flashing forward to 2016, a violent career criminal, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender), is executed with a lethal injection for murder. Instead of being executed, Callum is however sent to Abstergo Industries laboratory in Madrid. There he is cared for by the gentle Dr. Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard), whose creepy CEO scientist father Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) keeps his subject drugged and hooked up to a virtual reality/time machine called the Animus. We learn that this is the secret research facility of the contemporary Knights Templar, who are still searching for the Apple. Callum, whose ancestors were members of the Creed, is cleansed and revisits them when his memories of the past are restored and he enters through Virtual Reality the fight again with his ancient foes. The mission Callum’s on is to make sure that the besieged Sultan Muhammad XII doesn’t surrender the precious relic to the enemy. Alan’s aim is to possess the relic and thereby rule the world, and hopes to find the Apple by following Callum’s trail.

Filled with swashbuckling heroics, mucho jumping from rooftops, confusing story-lines and eye-popping visuals, things never made too much sense or moved past being trivial despite an impressive cast and an earnestness to be gamer friendly. It’s just another low-grade video game film despite its potential for more.