Release Date (UK) – 23 April 2010
Certificate (UK) – 15
Country – UK
Director – Neil Marshall
Runtime – 97 mins
Starring – Michael Fassbender, David Morrissey, Noel Clarke
The recent revival of the sword and sandal genre has given us a plethora of Hollywood films like 300, Clash of the Titans and the forthcoming Prince of Persia. It’s about time us Brits had a go, and this film from Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall may go on to spawn a series of home-grown epic movies.
Set in Roman occupied Britain, centurion Quintus (Michael Fassbender) is the sole survivor of a brutal invasion by the Scotland Pict rebel tribe. He joins the legendary ‘Ninth Legion’ brigade as they set out to avenge the Picts. However most of the legion is killed in a fierce battle, with the General Virilus (Dominic West) captured by the rebels. Quintus struggles to survive with a decreasing army of soldiers, and the race begins as they try to outrun the Picts and return home.
With a pretty bare plot Centurion is basically a series of fight sequences, alongside some beautiful shots of Scottish highlands scenery. There are some very brutal and gruesome deaths (a kill via a soldiers groin in the opening fight sets the tone early on). What’s disappointing about Centurion is that there’s not much originality to be found anywhere, but as a genre piece it’s a perfectly enjoyable watch. There are some basic plot details that almost get mislaid in the fast paced edit, so you do need to pay close attention at all times to keep track of the details and who’s who.
Fassbender excels, and the rest of the cast are great as well. The strong British accents are a little off-putting, (obviously we can accept the fact that they are speaking in English) but it might have been better for them to attempt some sort of an accent. The most aggressive Pict fighters are all women which is quite interesting, as it’s unusual to see such strong female warriors on screen and they are very convincing as such. However there’s also the usual love interest plot, as Quintus falls for a white witch outcast by the rebels. This subplot feels like it was tacked on at the last minute and doesn’t really flow with the rest of the action scenes, but it doesn’t mar the film.
Whilst Centurion lacks the spectacle of Hollywood big budget explosions and battle scenes, it is still an enthralling and action packed film, and definitely worth a viewing.