Centurion (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Centurion (2010)

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I am not a star type person.  There is not one single celebrity out there that makes me see a film just because they are the stars.  Casting can make a movie more or less desirable to me but it is not the end all of the conversation.  Directors, on the other hand, can get me into a movie seat if certain people are responsible for the film.  Names like Fincher, Spielberg, Scorsese and Crowe are people who I will watch their films no matter what because they have over and over again proved that, while they might have an off film, their film work prove that they make exciting and ambitious films.  Some up and coming directors that are about to make the jump to this list are JJ Abrams, Joe Carnahan and Neil Marshall.

Neil Marshall might not be a name that many people know, but he has really impressed me with little horror/thriller pictures that are at one time tense and smart.  The little seen Dog Soldiers is a great little B-picture, The Descent was a terrifying claustrophobic horror movie and Doomsday was a mess but a mess that kept your attention.  Now his latest film is called Centurion and was never given a chance before hitting video. This is a shame because the film is a rough and tough little action film that is great way to spend 90 minutes.

Centurion tells the story of the lost 9th Roman Legion.  While history has never been able to uncover what happened to this army, Marshall comes up with his own story and runs with it.  The year is 117 AD and the Roman Empire is at the peak of their size and power.  On the outskirts of their Empire, which is present day Northern Britain, the Romans are engaged in a bloody and never ending battle with the Picts, fearless and hearty soldiers that show no quit.  The movie starts with a Pict raid on a Roman outpost, leaving only one survivor, Quintis Dias (Michael Fassbender).  Dias escapes from captivity and meets up with the 9th Legion, under the capable guidance of beloved General Titus Virilius (Dominic West) who are on orders to attack the Picts once again.

Sexy, scary and deadly all wrapped into one package.

By this time in the movie, I did not have high hopes for the movie because it felt like the first 15 minutes of Gladiator spread out over a full feature film.  The film had the same color tone, the same types of costumes, was shot in a similar manner and took place in frigid woods just like the Scott film.  Then the movie surprised me by veering off the traditional swords and sandals type film into something totally different.  The legion is betrayed by Etain (the beautiful Olga Kurylenko), their mute guide, and slaughtered.  Titus is captured and only a handful of men are left.  One of the survivors, Dias, takes charge and decides the only thing they have left to do is go on a mission to rescue Titus.

At this point, the movie has turned into a type of Dirty Dozen, men on a mission behind enemy lines film and the movie really starts to zing.  The men have very little supplies, the clothes on their back and no hope of finding reinforcements, but yet the march towards the enemy instead of away from it and Marshall uses this plot to his advantage by ratcheting up the tension and action to make it feel like the soldiers are on a suicide mission.  Yet, the movie still has another trick up its sleeve and changes again after the failed rescue of Titus.

When trying to rescue Titus, the men not only alert their presence to the Picts, but also kill the son of their leader, turning them into marked men. Etain, the best tracker in the area, takes some of her best men and hunts them through most of Britain.  Quintis and his men, no matter how fast they run, how far they travel or how clever they think they are being, Etain and her posse are nipping on their heels. When Centurion turns into a cat and mouse type chase film, I fell in love with the film.  Etain, while not in appearance but definitely in her steadfast belief in her objective, reminds me of the Terminator.  For Quintis and the survivors of the 9th Legion, there truly feels like there is no escape from this woman.  They can’t outsmart her, hide from her or fight her.  They are on the losing side of this game and the men feel it, but still don’t give up.  Thanks to how director Marshall builds up Etain as a character, I feel like she was one of 2010’s most memorable and threatening villains.

Definitely one of the funnier screen grabs I have seen.

After watching Centurion, I now feel like Marshall has directed 3 very surprisingly entertaining films and I can’t wait until he is given the reins of a big budget project, because I think he can hit it out of the park.  By taking a genre who has been done to death and turning it on its ear, the movie becomes something that is at one time truly original but at the same time comfortably familiar.  Centurion is a violent, bloody, action spectacle that anyone that likes sword and sandal epics should watch immediately. The action is well staged, the characters memorable and pacing fast and exciting.  The movie is on Netflix Instant Streaming right now and it is definitely worth a watch, if for no other reason than to see an up and coming director flex their muscles.

Centurion (2010)

This film is on DVD, Blu-Ray and Instant Streaming.

Directed by Neil Marshall
Starring Michael Fassbender, Dominic West and OlgaKurylenko

Posted by Ryan

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