Movie of the Day – Centurion
June 25, 2011 1 Comment
I have to give props to Magnet Releasing and Mark Cuban (yeah the guy that owns the Dallas Mavericks) for helping to distribute independent and foreign films that otherwise wouldn’t get the to see the light of day here in the states. Magnet has brought us releases of Monsters, Ong-Bak, Hobo with a Shotgun, 13 Assassins and whole mess of other documentaries and foreign flicks. Without their distribution model, I wouldn’t be able to see the “historical” action film Centurion.
I am a sucker for historical action movies, or action movies in general. Gladiator, Troy (to an extent) and pretty much any movie set during the expanse of Roman rule are sure bets for some decent, large scale action scenes and a bloody good time. Centurion delivers the action and with a rather impressive cast. Considering Neil Marshall directed the movie and also The Descent and Doomsday, I am guaranteed some ferocious fights scenes and, well, ok story pacing. Not necessarily his strong suit, but I am an easy to please person.
Centurion follows that story of the disappearance of the Ninth Roman Legion during their campaign against the Picts. The Ninth Legion is sent out to march against the Pict army, lead by a former Pict tracker. During the middle of the march, they are lead into an ambush and the Ninth Legion is decimated. There are only 7 survivors of the attacks and they must band together to save their captain and report back to the Roman camp. Their journey becomes complicated when the Picts send out a tracking team to destroy the last of the Ninth Legion.
Fairly straightforward plot line and character motivation. Neil Marshall can deliver action very well as the battles and skirmishes are brutal and bloody. There is something to be said about the characters though, and that is the lack of back story and fleshing out the characters individually. You got Michael Fassbender as one of the main characters of the Legion, but he doesn’t get to really flesh out his character or story line as he and the rest of the cast is just hustled from scene to scene. Dominic West is sadly not used much in the movie, playing the role of the legion commander. He maybe has 25 minutes of screen time in the movie before they get rid of the character. The one truly strong performance of the movie came from the female Pict tracker Etain, played by Olga Kurylenko. Now she has been in numerous movies like Quantum of Solace, Hitman and Max Payne, but her roles have always been pretty woman in distress, say cliche lines and make-out with the lead male. Here, she plays a character who doesn’t speak, but she does her best performance as she conveys a litany of emotions. Without ever having to say a word, she show fear, anger, pain, and loss. Hell she was probably one of the best characters in the movie.
While the acting isn’t top notch, due more to the writing and directing, the large scale action sequences and small skirmishes are bloody and brutal. The battle that happens where the Ninth are ambushed is frenetic and gory. There are decapitations, limb losses, sword stabbing and other wartime injuries. Aside from the battles, the chase between the Picts and Roman guards is tense and unrelenting. Every turn the Roman’s make, the Picts are close behind, closing the distance and heading closer to their inevitable showdown.
Centurion is a good action movie with tense pacing, but kind of dragging character development. Don’t go in expecting to connect with any of the characters, but rather enjoy the story and ride that Neil Marshall gives us. If you have seen any of his previous movies, then you will like this one. If you enjoyed The Descent part 2, then you will enjoy this movie, but have terrible tastes in movies.