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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Michael Fassbender
Olga Kurylenko
Dominic West
Noel Clarke
David Morrissey.
Directors
Neil Marshall.
Screenwriters
Running Time
97 minutes

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Centurion
Neil Marshall’s Roman holiday... in hell


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Plot
Britain, 117 AD. Tired of constant harassment by the Picts in Caledonia, the Romans send in their toughest legion, the Ninth. However, after things don’t exactly turn out as planned, the few survivors, led by Quintus Dias (Fassbender), have to struggle back to the border before fierce, vengeful warrior Etain (Kurylenko) wipes them all out.


Review
Centurion
Neil Marshall’s latest involves a small group of people facing overwhelming odds in a hostile environment. Blood is spilled and there is gore galore as they fight their way to safety. Sound familiar? First it was squaddies beset by werewolves in a Scottish forest. Then it was spelunking women swarmed by flesh-eating Gollums in an American cave (the exteriors actually shot in Scotland). Next it was a sci-fi military unit dealing with cannibalistic punks and, er, medieval warriors in post-apocalyptic Scotland. Now it’s a rag-tag group of Roman soldiers hounded by Picts far behind enemy lines in first-century Caledonia, aka Scotland.

Like many filmmakers before him, Marshall evidently finds creative comfort in adhering to formula, and we should at least thank him for settling on one more ambitious than those concerning low-rent gangsters or football hooligans. But while Centurion is a solid entertainment, you can’t help wondering if it’s now time for a change of gears as well as genres. Maybe even — whisper it — direct someone else’s script.
Not that we mean to hurry him south of Hadrian’s Wall anytime soon. Marshall’s attraction to Scotland’s dramatic, storm-blasted landscape has never been so fruitful. Quintus (Michael Fassbender) and his men run a gauntlet of hail, mist and shadow in a land as threatening as it is beautiful, and from the opening scene, in which Fassbender’s hardy legionary scrambles through snow with his grimy torso bare, the land’s cold, hard bite is keenly felt. For Hadrian’s Romans this was the world’s edge, and the Geordie director’s affinity to the country, complemented, of course, by cinematographer Sam McCurdy’s excellent location lensing, makes Caledonia the movie’s most impressive antagonist.

The visuals are, at times, comparable with those of Ridley Scott, and it’s not hard to spot that Gladiator’s opening battle scene exerts a weighty influence, especially on Centurion’s money sequence. Here the Pictish hordes descend on Roman bad-asses the Ninth Legion, hacking the force down to the small group of survivors — a good cross-section of British and Irish talent, including Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, David Morrissey, J. J. Feild, Noel Clarke and Riz Ahmed — who must rescue their general (Dominic West) and get the hell home.

It’s at this point, though, that Centurion becomes less sure-footed, as the frantic chase dynamic sadly pummels the characterisation. Marshall sets up the survivors we haven’t already met with a cursory campfire introduction scene, then gets them running and mercilessly dispatches each in short order before we really get a chance to know them. Quintus and co.’s pursuers aren’t given much longer shrift; making Olga Kurylenko’s wolfish warrior Etain mute reduces her to a collage of scowls — a shame, as the character’s grievance against the Romans (who are, after all, the invaders) deserves better airing. The edit also is merciless and, save for a diversion so Quintus can hook up with a token love interest, the pacing is trapped on the ‘sprint’ setting; some plot details become lost in the blur (such as how, in an early scene, Quintus escapes his captors).

There is, however, no faulting Marshall’s star casting. As the appropriately named Virilus, West has a ball channelling all the irreverent bravado that made his McNulty one of The Wire’s best characters: “When will people learn not to fuck with the Ninth?” he sighs at one point. Fassbender, meanwhile, brings Quintus essential poise and flinty purpose. It’s going too far to say this role could do for him what Maximus did for Russell Crowe but, if nothing else, Centurion should prove to those who put up tentpoles that Fassbender certainly has what it takes to lead a major action picture.


Extras

Centurion Centurion
Released: 13 August 2010
Spartan stuff. There’s a rudimentary ‘making of’ featuring the actors complaining about filming in the cold, a cockle-warming outtakes disc showing West giggling every time he gets stabbed, and a commentary track where Marshall explains how gutted West was when he cut his stirring pre-war speech to the troops because it reeked of cliché.


Verdict
A gritty, brutal chase movie that’s more about swords (and spears, and axes) than sandals — although it could have done with a lot more character-meat on those bones.


Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Centurion
Empire Star Rating

Felt rushed

All good fun, well shot with a great cast, but really feels chopped together. As the reviewer points out, you hardly get the chance to get to know the characters before they get chopeed down (literally!). Good to see Fassbender and West having a ball in this one. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danielthompson99 at 20:46, 05 July 2012 | Report This Post


Excellent. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 11:43, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post


Set during the 2nd century Roman conquest of Britain, based around one Roman soldier who is captured by the Pict tribe and manages to escape back to a Roman base and spends the rest of the film running from the tribe after there kings son is murdered. I had such high hope for this film but it just didn't live up to its potential. Lots of blood & gore but something was lacking, it just seemed to me quite flat and emotionless. I kept waiting for something big to happen but it just never got... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by zedphelan at 20:31, 01 September 2010 | Report This Post


Good Yet It Felt Rushed.

Centurion is very much like Gladiator with it's bloody violence and stunning visuals. Instead of Russell Crowe in the lead, we have Britian's upcoming best talent Michael Fassbender leading his men to saftey from the threatening Pics. I'm surprised it has got away with a 15, the gory battle scenes scream a 18 but goes to show you what gets away with anything in movies lately. There are some light hearted moments, lovely scenery and good pefomances from Fassbender and co except Noel Clarke who an... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:06, 29 August 2010 | Report This Post


Good Yet It Felt Rushed.

Centurion is very much like Gladiator with it's bloody violence and stunning visuals. Instead of Russell Crowe in the lead, we have Britian's upcoming best talent Michael Fassbender leading his men to saftey from the threatening Pics. I'm surprised it has got away with a 15, the gory battle scenes scream a 18 but goes to show you what gets away with anything in movies lately. There are some light hearted moments, lovely scenery and good pefomances from Fassbender and co except Noel Clarke who an... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:06, 29 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Centurion

Pour your shot as soon as possible, allowing the most time for it to settle. Belch as often as possible early, releasing the gases that will cause you to throw up later. Don't SHOOT it, but drink it in one smooth motion, staying aware ofhow much air you vanced Cleanse ... More

Posted by jamesaliz at 10:38, 22 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: No sense-turion

Thought it was a bit shite to be honest. Made me want to watch Doomsday again, and film should do that  ... More

Posted by Shifty Bench at 14:42, 21 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: No sense-turion

Was good fun.   My only complaint is about the final stand-off. All of that was cut way too quickly. After the fight was over I actually had to rewind and watch it again to see who killed who and when. Also, the bit whit Thax (?) at the very end felt a bit tacked on. ... More

Posted by grucl at 07:47, 19 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: No sense-turion

could not find this in any London cinemas.. finally watched it last night on DVD thoroughly enjoyed it! a very engaging, gripping film with horrific action scenes and genuine sense of jeopardy 4/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hampstead bandit at 21:01, 17 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: No sense-turion

I liked it. Good fun. At it's heart I thought it was just a simple chase film/men on a mission that just so happened to be set way back when. The fights are great. The cast is interesting and pull the roles off, although I do agree the girl could have been given more of 'voice' so to speak. Thought she did fine with expressive stuff but maybe having her tongue cut out was a mistake since she's given such importance in the film. Also thought the finale came out of of nowhere. In so far as I just... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The REAL Bozz at 11:25, 17 August 2010 | Report This Post


No sense-turion

Neil!What is going on?Loved the first two films.Love the photography(All blues,greys and greens)in all four but,and it pains me to say this Neil,the last one was pretty much a turkey and now after waiting nearly two years for your triumphant return to form you release Centuion.An uncomortable hotch-potch of a film.with massive plot holes.Either you were forced into a brutal cut by the studio or your script writing needs work.I'll go with studio interference because i like you chap but please don... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gazathoth72 at 00:31, 12 August 2010 | Report This Post


THE HOPE OF BRITISH ACTION CINEMA

Neil Marshall is going to make a bloody good action movie one day. Unfortunately this isn't it - but Centurion still has lots going for it. In your face hack and slash carnage and a nifty script - and Dominic West's Centurion commander cuts a nice dash in hulking bravado. The endless helicopter vistas reeked of Lord of the Rings and I would have liked to have seen more of Paul Freeman's machinating Roman toff - but turn your brain off and this film is an hour and forty minutes of pleasing mediev... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 18:45, 28 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzzenturion...

L: Timon L: Rgirvan44 L: Timon I couldn't help but feel there's a longer film in there somewhere and Marshall may have forced to make massive cuts at the behest of the studio. The pacing seemed off and I can't help but think there were probably more 'character moments'. Still, I enjoyed it I just couldn't shake the feeling there's a better cut somewhere out there. Fassbender, Cunningham and West rocked the villa though... 3.5/5 'm not sure where they would add s... More

Posted by Gretzky at 14:02, 26 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzzenturion...

What do you have to do to get an 18 certificate nowadays?  Don't get me wrong - the film is full of quality slicing and dicing, I was just surprised that some of it got through.   Not a great film but it had enough enjoyable actioned packed stuff going on as the Men on A Mission got Pict off one by one. ... More

Posted by wombathog at 12:25, 26 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Centurion

Pretty much loved it.   But if I have to complain about something it would be... the final confrontation is a bit easy. After all that running, Olga and co' aren't so tough.   That, and Noel Clarke. He's bad. Real bad. What's he doing here anyway? Competent enough behind a camera but infront of it?... No. Wasted op with that casting.   But yeah, great pace, great violence, some funny dialogue and terrific turns by a cast of would-be thesps. I especially like Liam Cunn... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MoBiUGeArSkIn at 12:21, 26 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzzenturion...

L: Timon L: Rgirvan44 L: Timon I couldn't help but feel there's a longer film in there somewhere and Marshall may have forced to make massive cuts at the behest of the studio. The pacing seemed off and I can't help but think there were probably more 'character moments'. Still, I enjoyed it I just couldn't shake the feeling there's a better cut somewhere out there. Fassbender, Cunningham and West rocked the villa though... 3.5/5 'm not sure where they would add stuf... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 09:34, 26 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzzenturion...

L: Rgirvan44 L: Timon I couldn't help but feel there's a longer film in there somewhere and Marshall may have forced to make massive cuts at the behest of the studio. The pacing seemed off and I can't help but think there were probably more 'character moments'. Still, I enjoyed it I just couldn't shake the feeling there's a better cut somewhere out there. Fassbender, Cunningham and West rocked the villa though... 3.5/5 'm not sure where they would add stuff. It is a p... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Timon at 09:14, 26 April 2010 | Report This Post


Centurion

Despite Fassbender making the most of what he can with Dias, Centurion lacks a real hero, someone to get behind and relate to. The audience isn’t allowed to get to know these men as people - Dias isn't exactly Maximus or William Wallace. It's only by the halfway mark that Dias comes to the fore but he's somewhat lost in the constant running and fighting. A much-needed respite from the gore brings a much-needed love interest in Arianne (), a Pict outcast who helps Dias' beleaguered soldiers... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 21:28, 25 April 2010 | Report This Post


Centurion

Despite Fassbender making the most of what he can with Dias, Centurion lacks a real hero, someone to get behind and relate to. The audience isn’t allowed to get to know these men as people - Dias isn't exactly Maximus or William Wallace. It's only by the halfway mark that Dias comes to the fore but he's somewhat lost in the constant running and fighting. A much-needed respite from the gore brings a much-needed love interest in Arianne (), a Pict outcast who helps Dias' beleaguered soldiers... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 21:28, 25 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzzenturion...

L: Timon I couldn't help but feel there's a longer film in there somewhere and Marshall may have forced to make massive cuts at the behest of the studio. The pacing seemed off and I can't help but think there were probably more 'character moments'. Still, I enjoyed it I just couldn't shake the feeling there's a better cut somewhere out there. Fassbender, Cunningham and West rocked the villa though... 3.5/5 'm not sure where they would add stuff. It is a pretty tightly paced... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 19:37, 25 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Centurion

Managed to find a cinema showing it, (Poxy bloody Odeon) saw it last night and really enjoyed it. I can't understand where some reviews are coming from (Total Film for instance) stating that there's a big lull in the middle, namely where they take refuge at a 'witch's' home, that 'lull' lasted a whole 10 minutes before getting right back to the chase aspect of the film and because of that relentless pace I never really had a chance to get bored, infact if anything it could've done with longer s... More

Posted by captainrentboy at 19:32, 25 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzzenturion...

I couldn't help but feel there's a longer film in there somewhere and Marshall may have forced to make massive cuts at the behest of the studio. The pacing seemed off and I can't help but think there were probably more 'character moments'. Still, I enjoyed it I just couldn't shake the feeling there's a better cut somewhere out there. Fassbender, Cunningham and West rocked the villa though... 3.5/5 ... More

Posted by Timon at 19:27, 25 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzzenturion...

I really enjoyed this film. Marshall is four for four in my book. This isn't an epic war movie, but rather a chase movie/men on a mission movie. Yes, there is a large battle in the film, but much of the film is smaller affair. While they are very different films, Centurion shares a lot of connective tissue with Doomsday - the basic plotlines are similar, as are some of the visual motifs. Would make for an interesting double bill. Everyone does solid work. Fassbender is the cal... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 15:46, 25 April 2010 | Report This Post


Zzzzzzzenturion...

Saw Centurion in a preview screening ages ago, before its release. It was kinda balls. I mean the whole thing is so uninteresting. It looks fine although without the grey filter it would probably just look like a student movie with people running in the woods forever. Otherwise, the characters are so unappealing and the story so unoriginal that there's really no one or nothing to root for. It's not BAD as in it's particularly badly made or anything it's just really flat and soulless. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edward Nygma at 23:19, 24 April 2010 | Report This Post


.

My local isn't showing this either, looks like I'll be waiting for the Blu ray. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by agent cooper at 20:22, 24 April 2010 | Report This Post


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