Australian Council on Children and the Media

Assassin's Creed

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Not recommended under 15 due to violence and disturbing scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Assassin's Creed
  • a review of Assassin's Creed completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 5 January 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Assassin's Creed
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence and coarse language
Length 115 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

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

The film’s story begins in Spain in 1492 where 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 film then jumps forward to the present day where we find Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender), a direct descendant of Aguilar, being executed for committing murder. However, following the apparent 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, enabling Cal to relive specific events experience by his ancestor Aguilar, including where he hid the Apple.

Cal is hardwired into 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 and Templar and Assassin fight it out for the right to free will.        

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

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

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains extended scenes of intense action violence (some of which is brutal), the murder of one parent by the other parent, witnessed by their child, and the depiction of executions.  The film shows minimal blood and gore, but uses sound effects to infer violent and gruesome acts. Examples include:

  • In one ceremonial scene a man places his fingers in an elaborate looking wooden cylinder. A second man triggers the device and we hear the sounds of blades slicing and we hear the man grunt in pain. Following this, gauntlets with hidden blades are placed over the man’s severed fingers; no blood and gore are depicted.
  • In an execution scene a condemned prisoner with hands and feet chained, is lead 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 has a panicked look upon his face and begins to hyperventilate but then becomes quiet and his eyes close. 
  • During a medieval battle scene, balls of fire are hurled and explode on the ground. Soldiers on foot and on horseback, wielding swords, crash into each other and knock each other down, and flaming arrows are fired. A large threatening man grabs a woman and forces her to her knees and a young boy is dragged out of a hole in the ground and locked in a caged on a wagon. 
  • Throughout the film several flashbacks depict a twelve year-old boy witnessing the murder of his mother by his father. In one such 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 depicts 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 depicts 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 depict brutal fights between Assassins and Templars using a variety of weapons. These involve slashing and stabbing with blades and firing of arrows. People are run through with swords and are kicked and have their necks broken.
  • An Assassin holds a knife to the throat of a man while another man holds a knife to the throat of a woman. Each look at each other for several seconds before the Assassin slashes the neck of the man while the other man immediately slashes the throat of the woman. The Assassin watches the woman die.
  • In one of the film’s more brutal scenes we see an Assassin and Templar fighting using a variety of medieval weapons and fighting techniques. The Assassin repeatedly stabs the Templar in the stomach, chest and neck until the wounded man collapses on the ground; no blood and gore is depicted but we hear blood splashing out of his body as he hits the ground.    
  • One scene set in the fifteen century depicts two men and a woman being lead 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 pored over the wood and the wood and set on fire with flames leaping 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 burst 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. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, which are likely to be very disturbing for children in this age group, there are other scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • One scene set in medieval times depicts a man wearing a human skull as a mask.
  • In one scene there are brief images of a number of dark and disturbing drawings on the cell walls of a prisoner condemned to death.
  • A man is strapped into a machine consisting of 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 wearer into a past reality.
  • After being attached to a machine that makes him relive hidden genetic memories, a man goes into convulsions, frothing at the mouth with his body jerking uncontrollably.
  • One scene features a room full of people in a type of waking death state, their eyes staring blankly ahead. We learn that these people are suffering from the effects of the genetic memory machine. 
  • In one perilous scene, a twelve-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 a second rooftop several metres away. The boy fails and crashes into the side of the building and then crash-lands on a pile of mattresses. Apart from a few bloody grazes on the boy’s face he 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 speeding wagon with a man, the woman and the child dives off a cliff and the wagon 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 two dangle from the rope as they smash into a cliff face.   

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by much of this film, particularly the scenes of the mother’s death and the child in danger.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Many of the above-mentioned scenes are also likely to disturb children in this age group

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

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

Product placement

Nothing of concern in the film but the film is based on a popular video game and there is tie-in merchandise

Sexual references

Nothing of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

  • In one scene a man pours himself a type of alcohol into a glass and then drinks it
  • Use of intra-venous injection for execution

Coarse language

The film contains infrequent use of coarse language and some name-calling. Examples include:

  • One instance of the use of the word “fuck”.
  • Crazy; slugger; drug addict; pimps 

In a nutshell

Assassin’s Creed is an action fantasy film based on the popular video game of the same name. The film is packed with extremely fast paced and intense action violence sequences and gymnastics that should please adult and teenage fans of the game. Those who do not have prior knowledge of the game may find the film somewhat disjointed.

Because the film is showing during school holidays, it is likely to appeal to younger teens and tweens, but parents are warned that it contains brutal scenes of violence, including executions, throat slitting and the murder of a mother witnessed by her child

The main messages from this movie are:

  • It is worth risking all for the right to free will
  • Our genetic inheritance determines our predispositions

 Parents may wish to discuss the concept of free will and how it is connected to acts of violence. Is free will part of what makes us human?

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