Soul Bites Movies: Review of Assassin’s Creed—Free Will and Salvation


Yesterday, I took a break from spiritualizing and writing about spiritualizing to toddle off to my funky hometown theater and see a movie. I picked Assassin’s Creed because, well, it was the best of a bunch of really bad choices. Also, somewhere out of the corner of my brain, I remembered seeing the trailer and thinking it looked pretty neat.

I should pause here to tell you that although I am aware Assassin’s Creed is a video game, I have never played it or even laid eyes on it. I went into this movie a blank slate.

An awful lot of exposition was thrown out in the beginning of the movie, half of it in Spanish with subtitles, (I’m legally blind, so subtitles are no bueno for me), but, from what I was able to gather, here’s the gist: There is this silver orby thing called The Apple of Eden which holds the key to the free will of humankind. The evil Knights Templar want it so they can control everybody and the Assassins want to keep it from them so everybody can keep their freedom.

I give the movie as a whole a big fat “meh”: Too much exposition, too much people jumping off of things (seriously, the movie would have been about thirty minutes shorter if people weren’t jumping around so much), Michael Fassbender as the lead was about as vanilla as vanilla can be (yawn), there was not enough acting, and there was not enough meat to the story.

To sum up: Assassin’s Creed the movie would have made an excellent video game.

But now for the real reason we’re here:

One thing I found compelling about the movie was the use of the idea that the bad guys want to take away humankind’s free will in order to control them and, as Jeremy Irons’ character said, “because they are beyond salvation.” The reason this piqued my interest is that in Mormon cosmology, taking away humankind’s free will was Satan’s plan for human redemption before he rebelled against God.

Here’s how it goes according to LDSers:

God the Father and Heavenly Mother made lots and lots of kids—every person that ever was or ever will be. They wanted to send them out into some kind of world to be tried and tested, but they also wanted them all to be able to come back home afterward. Lucifer the light bearer, who was the second son of God the Father and Heavenly Mother, laid out his plan that he would have the other kids go down without free will so that they would be sure to do good and come back home. He also said that because this was his ingenious idea, when they did come home, he would receive all the glory.

As an alternative, Jesus, the firstborn son, laid out a plan of salvation that involved humankind having free will to choose good or evil. In his plan, he would go down and be crucified to provide humankind with an opportunity to be forgiven their sins, which they would surely commit once in a while since they had free will. If they chose good most of the time and had their sins forgiven the times they didn’t, they would return home. By allowing them to have free will, Jesus argued, they would come back stronger and much more knowledgable like their divine parents. To top it all off, Jesus said that all the glory would belong to God the Father.

Jesus’ plan got green-lighted and Lucifer’s was scrapped. Lucifer was none too happy about this. He rebelled and took a third of the host of heaven with him.

All this works out to the fact that in LDS theology, one of the worst of the worst evils that either Satan, a demon, or a human can work is to take away a person’s free will, or, the term they use more often, “agency”. This also means that any institution or government tampering with free will is also seen as evil—not merely bad news, but evil in a religious and philosophical sense.

It was interesting to me that the bad guys in Assassin’s Creed were so aligned with this type of evil.

As a former LDSer, while I believe the story of how Lucifer came to rebel may or may not be true, I still hold free will sacred in my soul and do view anything or anyone who would tamper with it as evil in the deepest sense.

Shame on you movie-fied Templars! Shame!

What about you? What are your thoughts on free will and salvation?


About M. Ashley

Essayist and poet, my work has been rejected by some of the finest journals in America. Fortunately, it also gets accepted from time to time and has appeared in equally fine journals such as Word Riot, Inlandia, Brew City Magazine, and SageWoman among others.. In 2002, I was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize for Vanderbilt University. For no good reason, I possess an unnecessarily dark humor which is why being third generation California Inland Empirian delights me so. My gods are weird. I once received $350 for writing a smartassed essay on “why the wise use of water is important in my daily life”. I am undoubtedly the Greek god Hermes’ special snowflake. I’m pretty sure I got into college via a series of fortuitous clerical errors. When I had to grow up and get a real job, I decided against it and stayed a writer. I have worked many odd—and I mean odd—jobs to support my habit: Commercial writer for country music hopefuls, resume massager, WalMart fitting room attendant and switchboard operator, telephone psychic.
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