Awakening The Past
Stars: Michael Fassbinder, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Ariane Labed, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling and Michael K. Williams
Director: Justin Kurzel
Scriptwriters: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage based on “Assassins’ Creed” by Ubisoft
Composer: Jed Kurzel
Cinematographer: Adam Arkapaw
English and Spanish language with subtitles
Rating: R for graphic violence and themed material
Running Length: 115 minutes
This reviewer is coming into the world of the video game “Assassin’s Creed” cold. Not an specialist of video games, my perspective is different from the avid fan. Thus said, I find the film “Assassins’s Creed” a fair action movie with more than its share of escapes that go from seconds to many minutes. Actors are top caliber including Michael Fassbinder (“Macbeth”) and Marion Cotillard (“Macbeth“ and “Allied”), plus Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Ramping and Brendan Gleeson. This story is really time traveling between the present and the 15th century where Spain---and the Church---are trying to retrieve “The Apple of Eden,” and, of course, whoever finds and possesses it has power with a capital “P.” Let the game begin.
Storyline begins in a desert part of the country where a woman dies with a hooded figure by her and a little boy is told to run and hide---he knows what to do, so whosoever is chasing him is expected. Years later, the boy is a man, Callum (Fassbinder) and on Death Row for a murder. We see flashbacks about the circumstances of the death of his mother. After a harrowing death scene, Callum wakes up in a lab with Sophia (Marion Cotillard) by his side. She is a scientist in the lab of her esteemed father, Jeremy Irons. What they have invented is a machine called “Animus” that allows a person from a certain bloodline to go back in history and become part of their ancestor’s activities. In Callum’s case, his ancestor was an assassin called Aguilar who was part of an Assassin's group that wanted free will for people, while the Knights Templar wanted control for people. You can imagine the types of weapons they used such as hidden knives and fighting clothes that used a hood (shades of television’s “Arrow”) as protection. As Callum goes back into history and gets into the fights Aguilar does, in today’s world people can watch Callum fight, though they can't see the enemy. This makes quite a workout for actor Michael Fassbinder and no wonder the guy has biceps the size of gallon jugs. Callum/Aguilar does not go into battle alone, but has friends in both time periods, including Maria (Ariane Labed) in the 15th century.. There are others like him in the Institute and soon they decide to break out as Callum’s battles are bringing forces alive in this age, namely a “secret society” that wants that Apple, so long hidden. Where is it? Has Callum found it through his time flight battles?
Michael Fassbinder does a believable Callum/Aguilar, along with Maria (Ariane Labed) as his partner who could take on a platoon and decimate them. The scenery they work in long ago is part of the cast, too, for without this atmosphere of old buildings and a smoky haze, the story would be less effective. Marion Cotillard does an adequate Sophia the Scientist, but she really has little to do and say but ask questions and push buttons. Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Rampling are the villains without having to say a word. You just know.
My favorite parts are when Fassbinder’s character goes into action. There is a blur, a flash, and people are on the floor. You would think with armor (the other side) and long coats with hoods (the Assassins) they would have trouble moving in a fight, but apparently not. This is better than the sword-and-sandal epics of the Roman Empire when the least amount of clothing possible was worn in a battle. There is also a 125 foot free fall (done by a stunt man) that is the highest free fall done for a film in over 35 years.
The city of Madrid is the background for most of the action, and that is part of the appeal of this film, it is a tour of Spain’s buildings. At times, the lighting is dim and you can't tell what the groups are doing---from One (Aguilar in dark gray) to the other (Templar's in black). There are escapes that defy gravity and some flashbacks that bring parts of the story together. Nonetheless, this is a fantasized storyline, so leave belief in the parking lot and enjoy the entertainment.
Copyright 2016 Marie Asner