Thursday, November 10, 2011

Centurion [2010]

A Roman legion is ambushed by the Picts (a Scottish tribe) and the few survivors must try to make it back safety before they are hunted and killed.

Neil Marshall’s play on the legend (mostly myth) of the Roman 9th legion in Britain – an unstoppable group who went “missing” while guarding their post. What I really liked about the movie is that you are given two sides – both give the viewer equal justification to root for. The Picts are defending their land against invaders – as well as Etain who has her own brutal reasons for wanting to hunt down the Roman scum. Then you have a somewhat likable group of Roman soldiers headed by Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender – who plays the title Centurion) – who you realize are pretty much left up to their own – with no cavalry coming to save them simply looking to get back home.

Marshall gives us his traditional theme of having strong women characters who don’t need men to save their asses – and they don’t need to show their asses. His films are violent and gory – and very masculine in that sense – but you throw in the strong female badasses in his films they are very feminist. That duality is one of my favorite things about Marshall’s films – the female characters don’t cower until they are “saved” – they stand up for themselves the entire time.

I think the cast did their part quite well - Fassbender brought a weight an sympathetic side to Quintus which worked very well and Olga Kurylenko was awesome as the silent assassin Etain. – and though the plot was thin – it was good enough for a fun survival-chase “genre” film. It’s a “you get what you pay for” Neil Marshall film – with plenty of gore and in camera effects – instead of the computer generated nonsense.

I wasn’t as enthusiastic about Marshall’s direction of Centurion as a whole – I felt he had a real energy and eye in his previous works – I’m not sure what really happened in this one. He still managed some beautiful shots – and some great compositions – but it felt a bit more vanilla.

Out of the 4 feature films Neil Marshall has done – it has no place to go but 4th on the list due to the strength of his previous work and obvious weaknesses in Centurion. Being a dork I just realized that this is his first film that didn’t start with D – The Descent, Doomsday & Dog Soldiers – and he was attached to Drive for a long while before Winding Refn took over the project (that would have made a VERY different film – but equally as awesome in a different way).

I liked the movie – but I can easily see how others would think it is derivative and just a boring hack and slash film. It is just a lot of bloody fun.


  1. Yes it was fun, but not super fun like his others. The hack n' slash was good. The story wasn't bad, it felt a bit like the Warriors (a great moive for me) with some Roman soldiers.

    I was happy to Mikey "the idiot" getting some work after his sporadic run on Dr Who.

    It was one of the mor enjoyable Roman legion movies in the last 20 years. Hollywood has a problem making these, as well as viking movies for some reason. It just isn't my favorite Neil Marshall film. Maybe this is his "pass" movie before he returns to what he knows/ is known for.

  2. No, not super fun - but fun for what it is.

    I think Marshall is a classic genre type of director - I think he enjoys taking the usual used movie paths and try to amp them up - so it didn't surprise me when he went Roman legion genre for this one... I can see him re-upping a few of the forgotten Hollywood genres before his career comes to an end - let's just hope that it's not a "straight to DVD no budget end" because with a little money - he gets a lot done - and such fun!