Review: CENTURION (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Review: CENTURION (2010)


After hitting considerably low point in the highly-anticipated DOOMSDAY (2008), writer-director Neil Marshall has finally rediscovered his distinctive filmmaking touch in his fourth feature, CENTURION. His first foray into historical action adventure is brutal, gory and above all, an exciting genre picture that most familiar counterparts in the past have failed to deliver (e.g. 2004's KING ARTHUR, 2007's PATHFINDER and 2010's ROBIN HOOD).

The movie opens with a battered Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender), the narrator of the story and a Roman Centurion who is on the run after his frontier fort is being ambushed by Pict barbarians. Quintus eventually joins the Ninth Legion army, which is lead by General Virilus (Dominic West). At the same time, Virilus has received an order to lead his men on a mission to find and kill Gorlacon (Ulrich Thomsen), the leader of the Picts. Guided by the mute scout Etain (Olga Kurylenko), they set on a journey across the forest but it doesn't take long before Quintus and the rest of the Ninth Legion army realizes that they are being ambushed by the Picts. Apparently Etain has betrayed the Ninth Legion army and she is actually belongs to the Picts. Most of the Ninth Legion army are brutally slaughtered, with only a handful of survivors managed to survive. Among them are Quintus, Bothos (David Morrissey), Thax (JJ Field), Macros (Noel Clarke), Brick (Liam Cunningham) and a few others. They discover that General Virilus is being held captive at the Picts' fort and they determine to save him at all cost. But their rescue attempt failed to materialize, and Quintus is left a task to take the remaining survivors back home. Hot on the trail is Etain and her selected hunters, who is ordered by Gorlacon to hunt them down at all cost after his precious son is killed by one of the survivors.

The story is mainly straightforward, which in turn, a blessing in disguise since Marshall doesn't delve deep into heavy political context often plagued in current historical action adventure genre. CENTURION is essentially a big chase movie, in which Marshall delivers them with sheer urgency. Aided by Sam McCurdy's sweeping and fluid camerawork, Marshall has successfully crafted a pulse-pounding entertainment with plenty of muscular action set-pieces and handful of unflinching violence (even though the movie exceeds too much on CGI bloodshed). Despite what could be a monotonous approach, Marshall manages to slip in a last-minute subplot involving an outcast Pict, played beautifully by Imogen Poots, who helps the wounded survivors with great hospitality. While such subplot tends to be a burden to the actual plot, Marshall is making sure it's a necessity and above all, served as a unique change-of-pace after a series of endless chase scenarios.

The cast is equally credible, with Michael Fassbender delivers a memorably muscular performance as the hardened Roman Centurion. But the biggest limelight of all is Olga Kurylenko, who is particularly impressive with her strong body languages and telling gestures as Etain.

While CENTURION doesn't rank among Marshall's best (DOG SOLDIERS and THE DESCENT), his fourth feature remains a step above from his previous failure, DOOMSDAY.

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