Michael Fassenbender plays Roman soldier Quintus Dias in this historical battle-fest based around the time when the Romans invaded England and Scotland. The Romans are having a few problems with the Scottish locals, and just can’t seem to invade. Dias’ camp is attacked a bunch of feared Scots known as the Picts. All but Dias are killed off in a savage display of brute force, more than likely fuelled by whisky The Picts leader decides to take Dias captive because he can speak their language and feels he may be of some use. Dias soon escapes, heads back to his Roman soldiers and then joins one of the most feared regiments in the Roman Army, the Ninth Legion. With orders to head back to Scotland and wipe out the Picts once and for all, the Ninth Legion head off, lead by a mysterious woman who goes by the name of Etain (an incredibly gorgeous Olga Kurylenko).
Things go wrong, and it turns out Etain is actually a Pict tracker. In her teens her father was murdered and mother raped and also killed in front of her, Etain was herself raped and tongue cut out, in order to stop her saying anything. This was all at the hands of the vicious Romans, so to say Etain is little angry goes without saying. She has literally become a killing machine, however, to look at her, i would happily die at her hands She leads the Ninth Legion, lead by General Virilus, into the woods where the Picts are waiting. In yet another display of brutal savagery, the Scots wipe out pretty much the entire Ninth Legion, and take Virilus captive. The survivors, Dias included, head off to save General Virilus. A chased follows, then after an unfortunate event at the Picts camp involving the death of the Pict leaders son, the Romans once again become the hunted as Etain leads a group of bloodthirsty Scots on a mission to kill the remaining Ninth Legion soldiers.
Directed by Neil Marshall, you know you are in safe hands. The first thing that really stood out for me was the utterly stunning scenery. I’m sure you will all agree the Scottish highlands are a beautiful place, and Marshall takes full advantage of this with constant ariel shots, swooping camera work, and time spent allowing you to really take in the views. Its a gorgeous film in terms of the setting, not so gorgeous when it comes to the fights! Make no mistake, Centurion is a MAN’S film. My wife said “Its all just men proving there manhood!”, and yes it is and thats what we want! Big tough men taking on another group of tough men, with lots of blood and broken bones in the process. Neil Marshall has really gone for it here with some of the most brutal fight scenes you will see all year. The Solomon Kanes look like a children’s film compared to this. The fight scenes are frequent, and each one more brutal and shocking than the last. Swords, crossbows, spikes, hammers, axes and god damn fuckin fireballs are all used to ultimate effect. Marshall seems to have a fondness of having his cast chopped in the neck by a sword or great big axe. In one particularly nasty scene, Etain strikes a mans neck with her sword, and then again and again until his head falls off! Lovely lady. The camera is a little too shaky in places, making it difficult to see all thats going on, but it makes for some fantastic viewing. I haven’t seen fight scenes like this for a while, and i am surprised this film is a 15 certificate.
You will also notice some familiar faces, including Noel Clarke and Liam Cunningham. The Scottish Picts look fantastic in all their war paint, and i really would not like to meet any of them in a dark alley. There are a couple of women on their team, who are also stunning, but vicious with a weapon. Now, i have just one or two small complaints. Firstly, and correct me if i’m wrong, but were there really black people in the Roman army? Also, you are meant to be siding with the Romans here, but they are the one’s invading Scotland. Don’t get me wrong, the cast of the Romans are all great and likeable characters, but i could not get past the fact they were actually somewhere they didn’t belong, and what, were the Scots supposed to sit back and let them invade? The Picts are made out to be savages, fuelled by hate, but they are simply protecting whats theirs. They fight off any unwelcome visitors and who can blame them. I also have my suspicions that their savagery is fuelled by whisky, and so nothing has really changed in all these centuries, those nasty Northern beasts
Centurion is a great watch, an actioner where you can leave your brain in the bin. I would say, dig out your best bottle of whisky, sit down and cheer on the Scots as they batter and bruise their way through Roman after Roman, have a good old perv at Olga and the other blonde in the Picts camp, and just switch off and enjoy some good old fashioned sword fights! Oh, and did i say the scenery is nice too, lucky fuckin Scots!