5 out of 10
Released: 23rd April 2010
Director: Neil Marshall: (Hellboy 3 / Doomsday / The Descent / Dog Soldiers)
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Imogen Poots, Liam Cunningham, Noel Clarke, Riz Ahmed, JJ Feild, Dimitri Leonidas, Lee Ross, Paul Freeman, Tom Mannion, Dave Legeno with Ulrich Thomsen and David Morrissey
Writer: Neil Marshall
Director Neil Marshall is one of the UK’s best action-horror directors making movies in the UK with British talent. So far we’ve had Dog Soldiers, The Descent and Doomsday. All of which were a solid string of interesting genre pics. This time around we have a good flick based on the legend of the Ninth Roman legion that marched into Scotland circa 200BC never to be seen again. This could even serve as a loose prequel to the Channing Tatum (MAGIC MIKE) starring The Eagle. Again this is a sturdy, no-nonsense chase movie.
Centurion follows seven or eight Roman survivors of a raid in which their general (Dominic West – THE WIRE -TV) gets captured by Picts. The group, led by Michael Fasssbender (SHAME), endeavour to rescue him and then find there way back behind their own lines. Essentially stranded and being hunted by Picts lead by former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko (MAX PAYNE), they have to use their wits to survive. The usual criticism aimed at Neil Marshall‘s films are that he never spends time building his characters, and this is very true of Centurion too. What he does demonstrate though is how quickly death can take us, especially in war. There are few opportunities to sit around and share niceties. One character is hit in the head with a club and you see the life go out of eyes instantly, an amazing shot which as far as I know is unique. There is no time in Centurion for protracted death scenes. The cast is made up of a great mixed bag of great British and Irish supporting actors from all backgrounds. The ubiquitous Noel Clarke (SCREWED – 2011) plays an athlete known for his speed, Liam Cunningham (THE TOURNAMENT) and David Morrissey (BLITZ) are the berserkers in the pack and Riz Ahmed (THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST) survives long enough to explain that he is a chef. The plot also squeezes in the potential for a romance with a woman to whom Fassbender refers to as “witch!” as well. This part of the movie could have been excised and no one would have known any different.
To be truthful, anyone could have played our leading hero in Centurion but this was a timely project for man of the hour, Michael Fassbender before he got snapped up by Hollywood. He’s competent enough, just unmemorable. So what ultimately ended up with is Neil Marshall‘s least personal movie. Beyond the carnage and the arbitrary dispatch of his cast, there are no discernible traits of his on show. It’s still a solid and dependable way to spend an hour and a half. Great and involving action and a nasty turncoat amongst their number give this a little seasoning but not enough to truly stick out from the pack. The large scale battle near the beginning looks like the biggest set piece Marshall has wrangled so far and it is excellent. Quite immersive! Just a shame the movie never betters this sequence and subsequently never rises above the average. In this respect, its very similar to its companion piece The Eagle (also reviewed here). So organise a Roman double bill, why not? It’s better than the Jack trilogy.
5 out of 10 – Great action, fights, battles, acting with a fair story. Only it’s not as quirky or as much fun as the director’s previous three films. It needs more personality. But its a chase movie not a Mike Leigh movie. Characterisation is a luxury in films like this dear critics, don’t you forget it.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?
- Michael Fassbender: The Snowman (2017), Song to Song, Alien Covenant, Trespass Against Us, Assassin’s Creed, X-Men 5, The Light Between Oceans, Trespass Against Us, Steve Jobs, Macbeth (2015), Slow West, Frank, X Men 4, 12 Years a Slave, The Counsellor, Prometheus, Haywire, Shame, A Dangerous Method, X Men- First Class, Jonah Hex, Centurion, Inglourious Basterds, Fish Tank, Eden Lake, Hunger, 300, Band Of Brothers (TV)
- Dominic West: Colette, The Square, Tomb Raider (2018), The Affair (TV), Finding Dory (voice), Money Monster, Testament of Youth, Pride (2014), John Carter, The Awakening, Johnny English 2, Punisher – War Zone, 300, The Wire (TV), Hannibal Rising, Chicago, The Forgotten, Richard III, True Blue, 28 Days, Rock Star, The Gambler, Surviving Picasso
- Olga Kurylenko: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The Death of Stalin, Momentum, The November Man, The Water Diviner, Vampire Academy, Oblivion, To The Wonder, Seven Psychopaths, James Bond- Quantum Of Solace, Max Payne, Hitman
- Imogen Poots: Popstar, Green Room, Knight of Cups, She’s Funny That Way, A Long Way Down, Need For Speed, That Awkward Moment, Filth, The Look Of Love, A Late Quartet, Comes a Bright Day, Fright Night (2011), Chatroom, Centurion, Cracks, 28 Weeks Later, V for Vendetta
- Liam Cunningham: Game of Thrones (TV), Childhood of a Leader, Noble, Let Us Prey, Dr Who (TV), The Numbers Station, Good Vibrations, Safe House, War Horse, The Guard, Clash Of The Titans (201o), Harry Brown, Perrier’s Bounty, The Tournament, Blood- The Last Vampire, The Mummy 3, Hunger, The Escapist, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, The League Of Gentleman’s Apocalypse, Dog Soldiers, Jude, War Of The Buttons, A Little Princess, First Knight
- Noel Clarke: 10×10, Mute, I Kill Giants, The Habit of Beauty, Brotherhood (2016), The Anomaly, I Am Soldier, Star Trek 2 (2013), The Knot, Storage 24, Huge, Screwed (2011), Heartless, 4-3-2-1, Centurion, Sex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll Doghouse, Adulthood, Kidulthood, Dr Who (TV), Auf Wierdesen Pet (TV )
- Riz Ahmed: Venom, Una, City of Tiny Lights, Star Wars – Rogue One, Bourne 5, Nightcrawler, Closed Circuit, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Trishna, Ill Manors, Black Gold, Four Lions, Shifty, Dead Set (TV), The Road To Guantanemo
- JJ Feild: Professor Marston and The Wonder Women, Not Safe For Work, Austenland, Captain America, Third Star, Telstar, Goal 3, Blood – The Last Vampire, Last Orders
- Dimitri Leonidas: Renegades (2017), Rosewater, The Monuments Men, Tormented, Sinbad (TV)
- Lee Ross: Dusty & Me, ID2, Infected, Dawn of the Planet of The Apes, Locke (voice), Eastenders (TV), Goal, Metroland, Rogue Trader, I.D., Secrets and Lies, Hard Men, Press Gang (TV)
- Paul Freeman: Death (2014), Getaway, Hard Boiled Sweets, A Fantastic Fear Of Everything, Powers Rangers – The Movie, Just Like a Woman, Indiana Jones and The Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Long Good Friday
- Tom Mannion: Emmerdale (TV), F, Brothers (Denmark), Iris, Beautiful Creatures, Croupier, That Sinking Feeling
- Dave Legeno: Sword of Vengeance, Last Knights, The Incident, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows- part 1 & 2, Bonded By Blood, Centurion, Dead Cert, The Cottage, Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince, Hell To Pay, Snatch
- Ulrich Thomsen: Mortdecai, The Thing (2011), Season Of The Witch, The International, Duplicity, The Broken, Hitman, Brothers (Denmark), Festen
- David Morrissey: The Ones Below, The Walking Dead (TV), Welcome To The Punch, Blitz, Nowhere Boy, Is Anybody There?, The Reaping, The Other Boleyn Girl, Derailed, Basic Instinct 2, Hilary & Jackie, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Born Romantic, Some Voices, Fanny & Elvis, Waterland, Drowning By Numbers