9 Dec

Title: Centurion
Neil Marshall
Neil Marshall
Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Riz Ahmed, Noel Clarke, Liam Cunningham, Imogen Poots
MPAA Rating:
R, sequences of strong bloody violence, grisly images and language
97 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
Rotten Tomatoes:

Neil Marshall does a good job directing Centurion, this is a huge film that he directed with just a $12 million budget, and he gets the most out of every penny, delivering some pretty nifty action scenes in the B-movie sort of style his films always seem to have. Just watch his insanely good The Descent to get to know how good this guy can be. Other than the action, however, there’s not that much to love here, because the screenplay, also written by Mr. Marshall, isn’t really good at all, the dialogue feels kinda off and the characters aren’t developed as nicely as they could have been.

Go see Centurion if you like your battles bloody and well done and if you don’t care much at all about proper character development, because that’s pretty much exactly what you’ll be getting here. And if you consider that the lead actor is Michael Fassbender then you’ll probably be thinking that this could have been quite better.

Mr. Fassbender is a guy most definitely on the rise, he came on to the scene in 2006, when he played Stelios in 300, and then a couple years later is when I started taking notice of this guy after seeing his performance in Steve McQueen’s Hunger, one of the most harrowing performances I saw in all of the past decade. Last year he was in Inglorious Basterds and this year he made an appearance in the dreadful Jonah Hex. And the guy is set to have a very busy 2011, a year in which I reckon he’ll finish cementing his status as a star. He’ll first pop up in the new Jane Eyre adaptation alongisde Mia Wasikowska, Jamie Bell and Judi Dench; then in April he’s set to appear in Haywire, Steven Soderbergh’s next film alongisde the likes of Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas; and then in June he’ll be leading an all-star cast in a sure blockbuster, appearing as the young Magneto in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class alongside James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones and a lot of other awesome people. And if you think that wasn’t enough he also has A Dangerous Method coming, that one being David Cronenberg’s next feature, starring alongisde Cronenberg’s usual collaborator Viggo Mortensen as well as Keira Knightley; not to mention the just-announced Shame which will reunite him with his Hunger director and see him next to my personal favorite, Carey Mulligan.

So yes, I’m a fan of Michael Fassbender. I haven’t had that much to judge him by, but Hunger alone makes me want to see what this guy does next, and just judging by the pedigree of the projects he’s signed on to for next year, I can tell that this guy is at least very smart when picking his projects, and that he likes to keep his plate busy, striking while the iron’s hot, wise move.

But back to Centurion, the film tells the story of a group of Roman soldiers who fight behind enemy lines in a beautiful Scottish landscape. So there’s a lot of running away from the enemies and doing their best to remain alive against the odds.

That landscape I mention is another reason for this being such a bearable film even though the characters are so one-dimensional, or in some cases pretty much non-dimensional. The Scottish highlands portrayed here are beautifully shot, the color scheme looking lovely against our tale of people running behind those shades of gray and blue, and then that lovely contrasting shade red when there’s blood involved. And when there is blood involved, it’s involved by the gallons, splattering out of the unfortunate chopped-up victims like crazy, looking cartoonish at times, but in the most awesome of ways.

I didn’t really know what to make of Centurion, I loved it when they got into the fighting scenes, and I loved how the scenery looked as they were running from the Picts that were chasing them, all shown in some pretty rad long shots. But I just couldn’t fathom how little we got to know our characters. The structure of the narrative is quite pleasing, but the dialogue just leaves too much to be desired, there’s a lot of expletives being thrown by the soldiers but there’s not much else, these guys being reduced many times to not much more than the bodies we’re seeing running along that beautiful scenery or being killed in really nifty ways. And when you have Mr. Fassbender and Dominic West, who’s from The Wire which means he can do no wrong, you just get a feeling that this could have been much more.

Grade: B-


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