Story

In the opening monologue of Assassin’s Creed, we learn that for centuries the Knights Templar have been seeking the location of the mythical Apple of Eden. This object is said to contain not only the seed of humanity’s first disobedience, but also the key to free will. If the Knights find the Apple they’ll use it to control freedom of thought. Opposing the Knights Templar is the Brotherhood of Assassins, a group that has vowed to defend humanity against tyranny and preserve free will.

The main story then begins in Spain in 1492. The Knights Templar have kidnapped a prince to exchange for the Apple of Eden. As the exchange takes place, Assassins drop from the ceiling and attack the Templars. One Assassin, Aguilar (Michael Fassbender), steals the Apple and escapes.

The movie jumps forward to the present day where Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender), a direct descendant of Aguilar, is being executed for murder. Following the execution, Cal is reawakened by scientists Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) and her father Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons), who are both Templars. Sofia and her father want to plug Cal into a machine that unlocks genetic memories. This will enable Cal to relive Aguilar’s experiences and memories, including where he hid the Apple.

Cal is hardwired to the machine where he relives the battles and violence experienced by Aguilar, becoming more like Aguilar after each experience. Eventually Cal leads Sophia and her father to the Apple. Templars and Assassin fight it out for the right to free will.

Themes

Genetic memory; religion and religious orders; mythical artefacts; free will and the control of free will

Violence

Assassin’s Creed has extended scenes of intense action violence, some of which is brutal. These scenes include executions and also the murder of one parent by the other parent, which is witnessed by their child. The movie shows minimal blood and gore, but it uses sound effects to suggest violent and gruesome acts. Here are some examples of this movie’s violence:

  • In one ceremonial scene a man places his fingers in an elaborate wooden cylinder. A second man triggers the device, and we hear the sounds of blades slicing and the man grunting in pain. Following this, gauntlets with hidden blades are placed over the man’s severed fingers. There’s no blood and gore.
  • In an execution scene a condemned prisoner, whose hands and feet are chained, is led into a room and strapped to a table. The room has a viewing window, and people are watching. Tubes are inserted into his arms and a machine sends liquids down the tubes. The man looks panicked and starts to hyperventilate, but then he becomes quiet and his eyes close.
  • During a medieval battle scene, balls of fire fly through the air and explode on the ground. Soldiers on foot and on horseback wield swords, crash into each other and knock each other down. They fire flaming arrows. A large threatening man grabs a woman and forces her to her knees. A young boy is dragged out of a hole in the ground and locked in a cage on a wagon.
  • Several flashbacks show a 12-year-old boy witnessing his father murdering the boy’s mother. In one flashback, the boy walks into the kitchen of his home to find his mother sitting dead at the kitchen table with her eyes open and a pool of blood beneath her chair. Another flashback shows the boy witnessing his father dressed as an Assassin standing next to his mother holding a knife to his mother’s neck. A further flashback shows the same scene, but this time the mother grabs hold of his father’s hand and pushes the blade into her own neck.
  • Several scenes show brutal fights between Assassins and Templars, all of whom use various weapons. The fighters slash and stab each other and fire arrows at each other. They use swords, kick each other, and break other fighters’ necks.
  • An Assassin holds a knife to a man’s throat while another man holds a knife to a woman’s throat. Each looks at the other for several seconds before the Assassin slashes the man’s neck while the other man immediately slashes the woman’s. The Assassin watches the woman die.
  • In one of the movie’s more brutal scenes an Assassin and a Templar fight using medieval weapons and fighting techniques. The Assassin repeatedly stabs the Templar in the stomach, chest and neck until the wounded man collapses to the ground. There’s no blood and gore shown, but we hear the sound of blood splashing out of the man’s body as he hits the ground.
  • One scene set in the 15th century shows two men and a woman being led outside by hooded executioners, who chain the prisoners to stakes in the ground as an angry crowd jeers at them. Wood is piled at the base of the stakes and oil poured over the wood. The wood is set on fire and flames leap up to the height of the chained prisoners. One of the prisoners struggles and breaks free of his chains and then uses the chains to swing at a guard’s head. He then uses a sword to stab and slash at several other guards and throws the sword at a guard, impaling him. He hits an executioner on the back of the head with an axe. The freed man releases the other two prisoners and they escape before a cauldron of oil bursts into flames, engulfing an executioner. The three prisoners escape across the rooftops, stabbing, slashing, kicking and punching their way through dozens of guards. Numerous guards fall to their deaths. One guard is pinned to a railing by an arrow through his hand, and another man has his head repeatedly slammed into a stone wall.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
The violent scenes mentioned above are likely to be very disturbing for children in this age group. In addition to these violent scenes, Assassin’s Creed has other scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • A medieval scene shows a man wearing a human skull as a mask.
  • There are brief images of dark and disturbing drawings on the cell walls of a prisoner condemned to death.
  • A man is strapped into a machine. The machine has a mechanical harness that can lift the man up into the air and move him about. When the machine is turned on there is a flash of bright lights and a tunnel-like view that plunges the man into a past reality.
  • After being attached to a machine that makes him relive hidden genetic memories, a man goes into convulsions. He froths at the mouth and his body jerks uncontrollably.
  • There’s a room full of people all in a state of waking death. Their eyes stare blankly ahead. These people are suffering from the effects of the genetic memory machine.
  • In one perilous scene, a 12-year-old boy rides his bike across a rooftop and then jumps his bike off the edge of the rooftop in an attempt to land on another rooftop several metres away. The boy crashes into the side of the building and crash-lands on a pile of mattresses. Apart from a few bloody grazes on his face, the boy is uninjured and rides away.
  • A scary scene involves a young boy in a cage on the back of a wagon. There is violent fighting between a woman and men on top of the wagon and a chase with another wagon. The wagon with the child, the woman and a man dives off a cliff and falls hundreds of metres to the ground below. The man saves the boy with a well-placed arrow with a rope tied to it. The man and boy dangle from the rope as they smash into a cliff face.

From 5-8
Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by much of this movie, particularly the scenes of the mother’s death and the child in danger.

From 8-13
Many of the scenes mentioned above are likely to disturb children in this age group.

Over 13
Younger children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes described above.

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Assassin’s Creed has minimal substance use. For example:

  • In one scene a man pours some alcohol into a glass and drinks it.
  • Executioners use an intravenous injection to execute a man.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

There is no product placement of concern in Assassin’s Creed itself, but the movie is based on a popular video game and tie-in merchandise is available.

Coarse language

Assassin’s Creed has infrequent coarse language and some name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Assassin’s Creed is an action adventure fantasy based on the popular video game of the same name. The movie is packed with extremely fast-paced and intense action violence sequences and gymnastics that should please adult and teenage fans of the game. Viewers who aren’t familiar with the game might find the movie a bit disjointed.

Assassin’s Creed is showing during school holidays, and it’s likely to appeal to younger teenagers and even tweens. You should note that the movie contains brutal scenes of violence, including executions, throat-slitting and the murder of a mother, which is witnessed by her child.

These are the main messages from this movie:

  • The right to free will is worth risking everything for.
  • Our genetic inheritance determines our predispositions.

You might want to talk with your children about the concept of free will and how it’s connected to acts of violence. Is free will part of what makes us human?