This film was recommended to me by a friend at work and as luck would have it, it showed up on Amazon Prime.
Centurion is a story based around the disappearance of the Ninth Legion, which has been the subject of several films, more recently, Eagle. In this version, we’re based on the Scottish border where a garrison is attacked and we find Michael Fassbender escaping from the Picts. He is rescued by a ‘man of the people general’ played by Dominic West. His Legion will happily follow him anywhere and he is ordered by the Roman senate to eradicate the Picts as they stop Rome from progressing with their conquest. The General is captured, the Legion is lost and Fassbender leads a small bunch of survivors to safety. They are tracked by a hunter / tracker played quite scarily by Olga Kurylenko.
It must be said that while this film feels like it’s low budget (it was actually about $12m), it’s well acted by a good cast and it’s visually appealing to watch. There’s mud and dirt, mist and sunshine painting the canvas. Fassbender is excellent as the lead, but so too is West, Kurylenko, David Morrissey and Liam Cunningham as well as Noel Clarke. I like the fact that it’s filmed in Scotland and nearly all of it is honest, outside set filming, using the stunning landscape this country has.
There has been criticism that there is not enough character development and that it’s really just a chase movie and that’s not without some truth. There is only one scene that really allows any of the characters to grow talk about their backgrounds, but in a way, what else needs to be said? These men are soldiers and don’t pretend to be heroes or anything else. They’re fairly anonymous by their very nature. A chase movie? Well maybe, but there’s enough blood spilt to make you want to shield your eyes and fights that look like a mass riot brawl. Gladiator wins out on style and cinematic effect, but this is a good film. It certainly doesn’t dwell on unnecessary storytelling and it’s well paced. There’s also a good level of detail in costume, the use of Gaelic language for the Picts and their tribal way of living.
Interestingly, the director, Neil Marshall has gone on to direct several episodes of Game Of Thrones and why not, this is a good effort and a good British film