Thursday, 5 January 2017


How can the wrong man for the job also be the right man for the job? I have no doubt that Justin Kurzel's approach to directing is wholly, uniquely his own, and not the overcooked pastiche of so many of his wannabe-auteur peers; concurrently, I have no doubt that it's a hollow approach burdened by significant limitations. It is strange that what spoils Assassin's Creed is its indulgent uncommerciality, yet that is also what rescues it. Its thick plot may be pointless, its many wayward stylistic diversions often fruitless, but isn't it bracing to witness a would-be tentpole deviate so wildly from its template? Assassin's Creed is all first-act development with a few third-act action sequences cluttering it up and throwing its structure off; it's a talky trailer for a franchise that will likely never materialize - talky yet vastly less interested in dialogue than it is in visuals. Kurzel's concoction is a fascinating one, full of details that are vague, idiosyncratic, bizarre, brilliant, undeveloped, tantalizing, all manner of qualities too infrequently observed in big-budget studio filmmaking. These details are as dumbfounding as they are dazzling, but at least they are at all! Assassin's Creed might have been a muddled masterpiece were it not for its social subtext, its timely tirade against the elitism inherent in education. The screenplay, credited to a trio of bona fide hacks, lacks the incisiveness to diagnose the cause of this genuine societal ennui, which it traces back several centuries, and thus settles for taking broad swipes at anything it classifies as a target. This is a noxious strain to the film that, in fact, cripples it far more than any of its more obvious missteps. It's the wrong job, and Justin Kurzel is the wrong man, yet somehow it's the rightest thing he's done to date.