A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Assassin's Creed is a fantasy action movie based on the popular video game series. As in the games, the main issue here is violence -- although the movie is far less brutally gory than the games. Still, there are several battles with knives, slicing, and stabbing, bows and arrows, and some dead bodies, including a mother, who's found by her son. The same boy performs a dangerous stunt on his bike and crashes. Capital punishment is depicted, and a man grabs a woman roughly by the neck. Language is infrequent but includes uses of "f--k" and "s--t." The main male character (Michael Fassbender) is shirtless for about half the movie, and there are references to a "pimp" and to "drug addicts." Fans of the game may enjoy the movie, but otherwise, it's a confusing, humorless, boring mess.
What's the story?
In ASSASSIN'S CREED, the Templar Order has for centuries been after the Apple of Eden, which is said to contain the secret for controlling humans' free will. Meanwhile, the Assassin's Creed is charged with protecting it. Scientist Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) locates prisoner Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender), a descendent of the Creed, and plugs him into a machine that allows him to re-live his ancestor's battles and to discover the location of the Apple. Sophia's father, CEO Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons), secretly wishes to use the Apple to end all violence and rule the world. Can Callum realize his destiny and re-capture the Apple before it's too late?
Is it any good?
Despite a high-class cast, this fantasy-battle movie -- based on a video game series -- is disorienting, makes very little sense, and, worst of all, is a terrible, humorless bore. Director Justin Kurzel and stars Fassbender and Cotillard previously worked together on a faithful version of Macbeth. It's a puzzle as to how they went from highbrow (reciting classic verse) to the extremely lowbrow (Fassbinder fighting shirtless while Cotillard gapes at him from the sidelines) with the barely coherent Assassin's Creed.
Perhaps fans of the video game will understand, but in the movie, the concepts of the Apple of Eden and its hiding place make very little sense. The characters don't seem to have much reason to even be here. In the supporting cast, stellar actors like Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Khalid Abdalla project great gravity and seriousness while becoming lost in a swamp of gray, sludgy, ugly cinematography and choppy editing.
Talk to your kids about ...
What's the difference between watching violence on a screen and experiencing it more directly via a video game? Does exposure to violent movies or video games make kids more aggressive?
How does the movie compare to the video game series? What's the appeal of movies based on video games?
Why do you think the main character is shirtless throughout so much the movie? Does that say anything about boys' body image?
Would it be worth swapping free will for an end to all violence? What do they have to do with each other?
- In theaters: December 21, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: March 21, 2017
- Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Michael Kenneth Williams
- Director: Justin Kurzel
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 140 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and action, thematic elements and brief strong language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.