DIRECTOR: Neil Marshall
NOT A PART OF MY COLLECTION
Will we be adding this to our collection? YES
The Romans are back, but not like we’ve seen them before. This is the first of the two films which have come out over the past year which has dealt with the disappearance of The Ninth Spanish Legion in what is now Scotland in the run up to the building of Hadrian’s wall.
The second, is The Eagle, which is an adaptation of the 1950’s novel, The Eagle Of The Ninth which is more of a boy’s own adventure about the son of the Roman General in charge and his quest to recover the Eagle, the standard of the legion. This is NOT about that. This follows the demise of the legion at the hands of Pichish warriors, or the Scottish as they’re now known.
This is an about turn, showing the highly skilled, professional Roman army, defeated at the hands of the British, who after years of brutalisation at the hands of the Empire, have become guerrillas or terrorists for all accounts. The political parallels aside, this is a believable concept to start our film with, as was the attitude of the army themselves.
They take the view that they were hungry for battle, brutal and professional soldiers to the last, with skills, zeal and courage, the exact attitudes that we have come to expect from more modern troops. Is this accurate? Who knows? But it works, as does the use of modern cussing and turns of phrase as the remaining Romans are running for their lives, heading towards the safety of occupied south.
The eponymous Centurion will be Michael Fassbender, Quintus Dias, who after being captured in a raid in the opening minutes, manages to escape and rejoin his legion, the fated Ninth. The few surviving Romans, a mixed group of Centurions, a Marathon runner and a Cook, make their way across the harsh terrain of the highlands, shot beautifully but Marshall, whist under attack from the Picks, wolves and the elements.
The brutality of the film is appropriate, but slightly over done, especially as for the blood which is gushing and spraying throughout, but this is about right for the type of fighting and weaponry of the time. Centurion does not pull its punches and rightfully so. It’s Romans running for their lives and the Britains hunting them down to last man. Both sides have their reasons, both sides have a point, but obviously, we’re supposed to sympathise with Romans and it’s not hard to do.
For a British action film, this is about the best I’ve seen in years, including every element you’d expect to find in any U.S. equivalent, The casting was good, not perfect but Fassbender was the solid heart of the film, delivering an interesting narration as well, made up a mix of classical literary tomes littered with modern terms, many of which containing casual swear words. The skill and detail put into the character’s motivations and knowledge was first-rate, and lent weight to believability of a film which was as much a story with flights of fancy as it was an accurate portrayal of Roman’s and Britains of that time.
Enjoyable, fun, but dramatically told and I suspect that this will stand the test of time. Well done Neil for finally giving me a British film worth shouting about.