Centurion Review

Published 5 years ago by

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Screen Rant’s Niall Browne Reviews Centurion

Centurion follows the Roman army’s infamous Ninth Legion as it moves forward from Hadrian’s wall into Scotland to destroy the Picts, a violent and barbarous race that plagued the Romans throughout their time in Britain.

The film opens with a bloody attack on a Roman outpost and the only survivor is Quintus Dias (played by Michael Fassbender), who barely escapes, only to happen upon the Ninth Legion as they march into Scotland, led by a mute Pict guide named Etain (Olga Kurylenko). Etain betrays the Legion, who are all but destroyed by the violent attack. The survivors (alongside Quintus Dias) set off in pursuit of the Picts, in order to save their Commander Titus Flavius Virilus (Dominic West). However, their plan isn’t entirely successful and soon they find themselves being hunted by Etain and her band of ferocious Pict warriors.

Neil Marshall is a director who likes to wear his inspiration on his sleeve – and when watching Centurion it is easy to see where his ideas came from. The Germanic opening of Gladiator is clearly a visual inspiration for the film – as are Aliens and Apocalypto – so it’s good to see that Marshall borrows from the best. Now, Centurion isn’t as good as those films, but Marshall certainly gives it his best shot.

Marshall first broke onto the cinematic scene a decade ago with Dog Soldiers. He parlayed the success of the film into his great horror achievement, The Descent – a move which led to his biggest commercial success. The filmmaker was given a larger budget and carte blanche for his next feature, Doomsday, a John Carpenter/Mad Max riff that was slammed by critics and died at the box office. The disappointment of Doomsday – with its overblown excesses – must have led Marshall to regroup and think smaller… which leads us to Centurion.

The first highlight in the film is the casting. Marshall has assembled a magnificent cast, led by the great Fassbender. The Irish actor has been on a great run during the last few years, delivering stellar work in Inglourious Basterds, Hunger and Fish Tank. He is clearly an actor to keep an eye on, and in Centurion he delivers a strong and charismatic performance. The Wire’s Dominic West is also clearly relishing his role as the leader of the Ninth Legion. Loud, strong and brash, West makes Russell Crowe’s Maximus in Gladiator seem like a shrinking violet. The rest of the Legion (including David Morrisey, Liam Cunningham and Noel Clarke) are also pretty decent – despite their roles being underwritten. Kurylenko delivers a pretty feral performance, even though her character has no tongue.

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Centurion is not for the faint-hearted. It’s an extremely violent and gory action film in which heads and limbs are removed by slashing swords and every body part that can be skewered, is. In fact, it’s almost too violent: once you’ve seen five decapitations, you’ve pretty much seen them all. However, Marshall knows how to handle action and he doesn’t skimp on battle sequences, so if you want a gritty and violent sword and sandal action film, then Centurion is for you.

The real stars of the film are cinematographer Sam McCurdy and the Scottish countryside. The sweeping helicopter camera shots showing the snowy and mountainous terrain are just breathtaking, and if the film reaches a wide audience then Centurion should help do for the Scottish tourist industry what Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand.

The main flaw of the film is the script. At times the dialogue in the film errs on the side of cliché and many of the characters appear to be underdeveloped, which is a shame when you’ve got the sort of cast that Marshall has assembled. The lack of development is also due to the film’s very brief running time of 97 minutes. There’s an awful lot going on and it feels that quite a bit of plot and characterization were left on the cutting room floor.

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Now it’s clear that Marshall doesn’t intend to win any Academy Awards with Centurion, but most films detailing such events have upwards of three-hour run-times. While this isn’t needed for Centurion, an extra 20 minutes to develop plot and character would have been nice. The third act romance could also have been sacrificed for a few more minutes with the Legion. The rushed pace could be due to budgetary reasons, granted, but it’s a flaw that cost the film one full star by my rating.

It’s good to see Neil Marshall getting back on track after the disjointed Doomsday. With Centurion he’s delivered an old-fashioned (if gory) action film with a Roman twist. If you’ve enjoyed his previous efforts, then you will enjoy this as well. He’s a man who loves movies, and he clearly makes films that he likes to watch – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Centurion isn’t flawless by any stretch of the imagination, but it is filled with plenty of gory action and it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. However, four movies in and it’s becoming apparent that Marshall’s skill is as a director and not a writer, so if he wants to avoid an M. Night Shyamalan-style decline, it might be good for him to tackle someone else’s material – or at the very least, only co-write his next feature.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. is this out yet? MY KINDA FILM!

  2. Sword and sandle violence? Oh hell yea. When does this open?

    • Since the film was picked up for distribution by Magnolia/Magnet releasing, it will go by the following flow of platform:

      HDNetMovies/VOD – Limited Theatre run (Lakeview Cinemas) – Video shelves.
      Within a two week window of each other.

  3. The Decent? How about The Descent. Nice try though. Mediocre review.

    • oh christ man, you’ve nevr made a typo before, get over it lol

    • Brandon,

      I *love* readers like you. One letter missing from a single word in a 900 word review and that’s the focus of your comment.


      • Agreed. I would have pointed it out if I saw it, just so that he could fix it. But to use it as a springboard for criticism is rather on the tasteless side.

    • OMG!!!111!!!! a typo gosh

      • lol daniel, i left out an e in never so he’d reply back, no go :)

  4. i got this on DVD last night and it was dvd quality, i can say i cant wait to see Fassbender as Young Magneto!!! as far as Centurion goes i thought the movie lacked plot with out a doubt and The Leigon should have been more of a force to deal with (a’la 300) but over all i really liked the movie the over head shots of them running thru the mountains and country side were great and the last fight scene was real good. I will say i enjoyed The Descent more then this BUT if i had not gotten this on DVD it would’ve got my 10 bucks at the movies for sure. I would say 3 1/2 stars out of 5 but if you just want to see some braveheart/gladiator/beoulwolf action go for it Neil hit it on the head there.

    • Where did you get a DVD for this movie so soon? Is it a legal copy?

  5. No its not a legal copy man the movie comes out this weekend in the states i have a “hookup” lol

    • Pay the 10 bucks and go see it in a theater.

      • 10 where _you_ live. I hear it’s 20 in New York. Out here in Seattle it’s 18 for IMAX. Not that stealing is right, but dammit they keep punishing the honest folks.

      • Or wait about a week or two, seeing who distributes the film.

    • I will admit to having ‘aquired’ this film in a less than legal fashion also. Mainly because I have no idea if its even going to get a UK release and I simp[ly cannot afford the astonomical cinema prices where I live.

      • I love it when people who obviously have the means use theater ticket prices as a justification for getting copies of films that are yet to be released or just release because they are too cheap to pay the going rate for a ticket..

        • I go to the cinema two or three times, I personally feel the odd freebie isnt that bad. Or for example, I paid to see Sherlock Holmes twice, the dvd came out and had no extra features but the blu ray had loads, so out of annoyance I downloaded the film instead. I feel quite justified in having done so.

        • So true, and then the same people complain when they get more mindless Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor” or “transformers 2″ crap pushed at them.

          If that is what makes money, the studios will make it.

          If people pirate the good stuff, the studios won’t make more if it does not make a profit.

  6. This movie was pretty good. Watch this film ondemand save yourself a few bucks.

  7. @greenknight: $10? I never pay more than $6 (near Orlando) unless it’s IMAX.

    @Vic: Idiocy is hereditary. Ignore it. I appreciated the review.

    • Well arent you insanely lucky I live in London, the cinema prices here are around £12-£16 which equates to over $22. Imax costs around $30.

      • I’m in North-West London and my local Vue’s never any more than £8.40. Which IMAX are you going to? Even the BFI next to Waterloo Station – largest screen in the country – is only £14 for an adult ticket!

        • Thinking about it, I went to midnight showings of The Dark Knight and Watchmen at the BFI and paid £12.

          • £12 for a strictly non-IMAX, non-3D screening of Blade Runner as well. Just saying, for $30 you’re getting ripped off!

        • My local Vue (Fulham Broadway) is £9.90 for a 2D film. Last time I went to the IMAX at Waterloo to see Avatar it was something like £16.

  8. 11 2D, 13.50 3D, and 20.00 IMAX 3D where I live not counting the 30 min drive to get there…

    • I get a military discount where I’m at, only 5 bucks per ticket for everyone I’m with 😉

  9. Titus Flavius Virilus…. so they did have pimp names back in the day.

    • LMAO!! :)

  10. I’m interested I might be checking it out, but who knows. I like sord and sandal sword violence. I’ll probably wait till DVD though money is a little tighter this year than usual and I’ve been to the theater a few to many times.

  11. It’s called trollery, friends. Stay sweet.

    • Way to backpedal. Good luck with that.

  12. I am looking forward to this movie though.

  13. And Vic: I love you too

  14. Whaow, for a nifty 3 out of 5-star review this post is really happy today 😀

  15. hahahaha what the hell with this guy Brandon?? He is so angry because of one little mistake, basically he says that the review was bad because of that. However Screen Rant rules!!

  16. Another man-killing machine movie! I remember Gladiator.

  17. So greenknight you hack in to peoples bank accounts? I mean that’s the only way you would know if someone had the means or not. Maybe it’s just me but that seems even more wrong.

    Whatever man kidding aside some of us DL your butt hurt about it point made move on. Your not gonna suddenly make us stop so just move on it’s really not your problem.

  18. Daniel wtf? He didn’t mean he hacked people’s bank accounts, he meant even though people are well off enough to pay for it, they don’t, claiming high ticket prices as their justification.

    • What Brandon said…

  19. Actually Santa more often than not people pirate the mediocre films, films they already saw twice in the theater and want to keep watching until the DVD is out or films that are hard to find. People rarely download great films and go pay for crap ons that doesn’t even make sense. By the way despite the rise in download popularity the film box office in take is higher than it ever was before the Internet and downloading became popular.

    • I also think the rise in cinema prices, paticularly 3D films, has something to do with the increase in downloading. There was a time not too long ago when seeing a great film two or three times at the cinema wasnt too expensive, that has changed.

  20. @drsam I’m right there with you on Sherlock I loved it but the DVD sucked.

    A good example for me would be I watched TDK twice in the theaters and went back for a fourth time but brought 4 people with me and paid for them all. I wanted to keep watching it but couldn’t afford to keep going and the DVD wasn’t going to be out for months so I downloaded it but bet your behind I behind the day it came out I bought the blu Ray and bout my third copy of batman begins begins yet another special edition came out. Take inception paid to see it twice and I’ll be downloading it when a good copy comes out I’ll also buy the DVD when it comes out.

    Then there are fiilms like Brick or Grace is gone that never played in my area so I downloaded them and loved them I now own both on DVD. I discovered alot of films because of downloading and would own alot less films if not for downloading.

    • Yeah thats my feelings as well, So often I miss films becuase they arent playing in my area, Taken for example was never shown anywhere within fifty miles of where I used to live, So I downloaded it. Loved it. And not too long ago I bought it.

      I have thousands of DVDs, the money I have spent on them is crazy, so I dont feel like I’m cheating anyone by downloading the odd film, especially as I have already paid to see most of them at the cinema.

  21. Been out on DVD since the start of the week in the UK here. I’ve been waiting for this much like I did Solomon Kane (another underrated film). Looking forward to watching it tomorrow.

    • I agree there Solomen Kane wasnt bad at all, the ending was a bit rubbish though, saw that for free at the cinema after the test screening I was going to see was cancelled.

      • Oh yeah, nearly forgot the “lets totally rip-off Van Helsin” ending. Perhaps not enough money and/or time in the end. Pity.

  22. Ticket price inflation is mostly the economy getting worse and worse every six months. There is also an increase because of pirating but not because they are losing money and more because they want an excusse to raise prices

    • So the economy is getting worse, piracy is on the rise, ticket prices are increasing but not because of the economy or piracy but because the studios just want to increase prices…WTF!! I’m sorry Daniel but that makes no sense whatsoever…

  23. I never said that there are times I think it’s not ok. In fact I never have a problem with downloading I do it a certain way and have specific rules I follow but I wouldn’t judge someone else and treat them the way you treat me simply because they don’t feel the same way about it. I still pay for the theater and buy DVDs. I spend more money on both than the average american family. Before being able to download I spent no more than I do now. In fact since I started downloading I have spent more on DVDs because I’ve discovered great films I would of never given a chance or never even heard of. I could list more than 40 of my DVDs that I have and never would of bought if not for downloading.

    Despite people wanting to pretend like downloading is hurting the industry there is actual statistical proof that the industry hasn’t been hurt at all. Films are making more money and in most cases have higher attendence records than they did in the 80s before wide spread Internet downloading.

    It’s simple if you don’t like downloading then don’t downloading but leave those of us who do alone. What do you gain by treating us like crap? You think any of us will stop because you got mad? No hell aggrivate the right person and he might download 5 movies just because you pissed him off. You gain nothing from complaining about what I do with my personal time. I can download and rant at the same time just fine. I respect that you don’t like downloading that’s fine that’s your choice good for you.

  24. Wow green I’ve seen a hell of a lot of childish responses on here I’ll admit I even made a few my self but yours is by far the worst I’ve seen yet. We clearly don’t agree but instead of letting it go you insult the hell out of my character and belittle me as a person.

    I respect Vic and have been trying to keep a lid on my anger towards pricks so I’ll make this my last response to you. Please feel free to continue your childish behavior and obvious insults with out me.

    • I’m confused by your argument here slightly, not trying to start a fight or anything, but the ticket sales have gone down, but the total box office has gone up by several billion. How does that equate to people downloading films is taking money from the studio? Because from you statistics that doesnt appear to be the case at all.

      I try to go to the cinema every week, I buy hundreds of DVD’s every year. I’m not hurting the industry by downloading a few films. Next year when Green Lantern comes out, I will go and see it at the cinema, probably more than once if its good, and then I will download it. Will that stop me from buying it on DVD? No.

  25. Well I hate lies and I Lies I try to avoid ever telling one and it sucks but I’m gonna have to turn something I said in to a lie. I had no intention of it being a lie when I said it but stuff happens.

    So Green you see me say I’m done with this post. I wanted to avoid letting the conversation continue off topic and wanted to stop it from being filled with even more personal insults. So instead of letting it go you continued. Not only replying once bashing me even more but you kept replying multiple times in fact and then posted useless statistics that are fairly meaningless. So that when I didn’t reply you could pretend to have some sort of victory. So now i’ve told a lie thanks. Instead of insulting you though I’m gonna remain calm and take the high road in this disscussion you can join me if you like or continue being insulting.

    Your stats don’t help your point or hurt my point. The topic was total tickets sold in a year now compared to 20 years ago. Instead you post tickets sold per theater and how many screens exist now and then. You try to say that since we gave less tickets sold per theater now that it means the industry is hurting. You seem to gave firgotten that we have more theaters. Now instead of every one going to the same theater in their town they have 4 or 5 to choose from spreading the amount of sold tickets out.

    Si I decided to lend you a hand. My point was that we are selling more tickets now than we did in the 80s and you have not disproven that. So I’ll use your own stats against you. By taking your ticket price and total money earned per year stats I figured out how man tickets have been sold that year total not per theater but in total.

    1980 – tickets sold total roughly 1.02 billion
    1990 – roughly 1.18 billion
    2010 – based on the years estimate roughly 1.341 billion.

    Source you

  26. My argument is and always has been there are more tickets being sold now than there were in the 80s and I just proved that using your stats and math. Tickets sold per theater are in no way important they have nothing to do with the argument and probe nothing. The argument is again for the cheap seats TOTAL TICKETS SOLD PER YEAR and the stats prove there have been more tickets sold now than in 1980. What does it matter how many tickets are being sold per theater. I have 6 theaters in my area a new one just came up. 5 years ago I had three. I went to two of those theaters alternating last year a new one came out that was awesome great seats good neighbor hood plenty of screens. I have now consistantly gone to that theater which means that the other theaters lost my money less tickets sold for them. It’s safe to assume other people have done the same other wise the new theater would be un able to turn a profit.

    We are getting more theaters all the time a new theater coming up does not suddenly create 40k people. So to sell tickets they take people from other theaters lowering it’s tickets sold amount. It’s simple logic really.

    Either way at the end of the day total tickets sold in 2010 (based on estimates years not over) are higher than they were in 1980 which was the argument. That’s a fact based on the stats you gave and very simple and basic math. An undenyable fact unless the stats you gave are not accurate.

    You’ll notice no personal attacks in this nor my last response just facts.

    I’ll admit calling you a prick was childish and rude I apologize to that but it’s one insult in a single post. You have posted several comments insulting me and several insults with in each comment and while this is very childish to say, you started it. I’m no longer insulting you I made one slip up and I’m telling you I’m sorry for it.

    I’ll now extend my hand in hopes of a civil conversation.

    So ugh how about that Centurion?