|Sexual fetish or prisoner of war? Context makes a difference.|
The Picts, a Scottish clan, have been using guerrilla warfare against the invading Romans for a while. One night, they launch an attack on a Roman garrison, killing all but Quintus (Michael Fassbender), and only because he cursed them in their own language. Why that matters when so many Picts in this movie speak English, I don't know, but Quintus is deemed "important" and is captured instead of being killed. Meanwhile, the Ninth Legion is dispatched to kill some Picts for the glory of Rome; they are given a mute Pict tracker, Etain (Olga Kurylenko), to hunt down the rebellious Picts. You may be wondering why a Pict would hunt her own people, and that's a good question. The answer given is because she is loyal to Rome. Obviously. Quintus manages to escape his captors and accidentally runs into the Ninth.
|He had them right where he wanted them|
|Not if Etain has nothing to say about it. You know, because she's mute.|
This is the second film I have seen and reviewed from director Neil Marshall, and I think I'm beginning to identify his strengths. Centurion is a bloody and gory movie, which is exactly what any film about a Roman rebellion should be; if dozens of characters are supposed to be dying by sword and hatchet wounds, there damn well better be some severed body parts and blood. The action scenes are good, and some of the death scenes were totally awesome. My favorite example of the awesomeness comes from a character who has been speared, but then pushes the spear through his body to stab and kill his enemy. It's probably harder than it looks. Aside from the totally respectable violence, Marshall captured the natural beauty of Scotland in long-shot after long-shot of the group running for their lives.
Marshall doesn't do much with the characters, though. The performances are all fine. Michael Fassbender is suitably heroic and he is only marginally less of a tough guy than he was in 300. Former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko was convincing in her action scenes and...well, she was mute, so she didn't talk much. The rest of the cast was capable with their parts; Dominic West was almost likable as the general, JJ Feild was kind of scummy, Liam Cunningham was decent as an old soldier, and Imogen Poots was okay as the curiously clean local witch. Nobody gave a bad performance, but there was no depth to these characters. I could care less about who lived and who died. Thanks to this lack of likable characters, the adventure in the film lost any sense of urgency it might have had.
|"Not likable? Perhaps you missed my smoldering stare...?"|
The key to a good movie about soldiers is to make the audience give a crap about them as people. Centurion doesn't even try to do this. The film looks gorgeous at times and the action is fun to watch, which is especially impressive given the low budget, but the story never takes off because you never care what happens next.
|Death scene or sex scene? You won't care which.|