directed by Neil Marshall
Born in the aftermath of Gladiator, the Spartacus series and similar productions, Centurion capitalizes on the lasting popularity of all things Roman.
The story is set in 2nd-century Britain, and Roman troops are fighting a losing battle against the wild northern Picts. The movie presents the Romans as the good guys -- noble warriors -- and the Picts as vicious savages, ignoring the fact that the Romans were invaders and the Picts were defending their homes. But hey, it's a movie.
Centurion Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) is the sole survivor of a Pictish attack on a northern outpost. Once rescued from his captors, he joins the valiant 9th Legion under the command of General Titus Flavius Virilus (Dominic West) in a sally to the north, only to survive yet another devastating attack by the cruel northern hordes.
Quintus flees with the few remaining Roman soldiers, a ragtag bunch including Davos from Game of Thrones (Liam Cunningham), the Governor from The Walking Dead (David Morrissey), Mickey from Doctor Who (Noel Clarke), Fenrir Greyback from Harry Potter (Dave Legeno) and Major John Andre from TURN: Washington's Spies (JJ Feild). They head north to throw off their pursuers, before turning south toward reinforcements and salvation.
They are pursued by revenge-driven Picts led by the turncoat tracker Etain (Olga Kurylenko) and Druzilla (Rachael Stirling). Along the way they encounter rivers, wolves, snowstorms and a Pictish witch, Arianne (Imogen Poots), who lends the Romans aid against her own people.
All in all it's a good film, adhering closely to the history of the time and providing a plausible explanation for the mysterious disappearance of the 9th Legion. Without being as over-the-top bloody as Spartacus, Centurion provides some excellent large-scale battles as well as smaller skirmishes and one-on-one fights.
The story, too, is solid. Even though the Romans are the heroes of this tale, the movie gives us the impression that aren't a lot of good people anywhere, and Dias is that rare good man in a bad situation.
6 May 2017
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