Contributor; London
After the overblown homage of Doomsday, there's really only one question at stake here - has Neil Marshall got his genre movie mojo back? The not so simple answer is "sort of". Once the brightest star of British horror, with Dog Soldiers and The Descent under his blood-stained belt, Marshall understandably got delivered a significantly larger budget for Doomsday. Sadly, whilst not a total disaster, it failed to deliver on his early promise.

Thankfully with Centurion he's back to much tighter movie-making with a wonderfully beefy cast including Dominic West, Michael Fassbender, David Morrissey, Noel Clarke and Riz Ahmed (someone give this guy more juicy roles - he's awesome). So, no shortage of talent then.It's AD117 and the Roman Empire's conquest of Northern England has been scuppered by a ferocious tribe known as the Picts. Retreating at pace from his decimated outpost, Quintus Dias (Fassbender) joins forces with the 9th legion headed-up by the awesomely named Virilus (West). Together they head north on a mission to defeat the Picts once and for all. But one flaming, bloody ambush later, has Virilus captured and Quintus stuck behind enemy lines with only a small band of warriors left. To add insult to (graphic) injury they're being tracked by the once allied Pict warrior and all round she-villain Elain (Olga Kurylenko). 

The premise is lean and it's executed with a brutal efficiency that's instantly reassuring. West and Fassbender here are forces to be reckoned with. West in particular is fabulously gruff and filled with bar-fighting, tough-talking bravado. Any spears thrown his way you feel are liable to be caught and used as toothpicks to dislodge rogue pieces of hog from the previous night's feast. The Brit director keeps the action coming at a frantic pace and the striking mountain and forest landscapes are beautifully shot.

This being a Neil Marshall film, all the soldiers talk like British army squaddies (or at least the cinematic representation of) and you can imagine these 'Roman' soldiers cropping up on the set of Dog Soldiers with barely an eyelid batted, witty, blokey banter spouting forth. Strangely though, it works. Centurion's agenda isn't about being a grandiose Gladiator clone, despite the inevitable comparisons and not so subtle nods to Scott's film - "I am a soldier of Rome, and I will not yield!". Rather it's a tight little action movie elevated by a great cast and snappy direction. The pace sags a little mid-way, but picks up again and it's all over before you know it.

Ultimately it's as much fun as Dog Soldiers, if not as gripping as The Descent. So not Marshall's best, but he's certainly left his Mad Max obsession far behind him with a swift blast of loud, meaty historical action. No more, and no less.

Centurion is out on UK Blu-ray and DVD on 16 August 2010 from Pathé Productions Ltd. Centurion will be arriving on US DVD and Blu-Ray soon from Magnet Releasing.
Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.

More about Centurion

Around the Internet