Keven Reviews: Centurion
Published: September 12, 2010 - 12:21pm
Michael Fassbender has been on quite a tear lately. It seems like only yesterday that I saw him in greasy oiled nipple form with only a handful of lines in 300, then all of a sudden he was giving some of the greatest monologues of all time in Inglourious Basterds.
I heard he was also the best part of that awful Jonah Hex film too. Needless to say I was intrigued to see him in another role as a Roman soldier, and not only that - in a film directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Dog Soldiers and Doomsday). It's a combo I couldn't resist.
Centurion is what would happen if you adapted the Vertigo comic series Northlanders into a live action film. It's gritty, violent, a little stylized and did I mention it was violent? The film is set on a small group of Roman soldiers trapped behind enemy lines in a savage battle to stay alive as they are hunted down by the Celtic warrior Picts in Scotland.
Fassbender is our lead and in a surprising twist, our villain is played by Olga Kurylenko. It's not too often we see a woman put such a beating on the fellows, and it's even cooler to see such a nasty performance by someone who was practically helpless as the last Bond girl.
The movie is a bloodbath from the get go and there isn't much time to let up and deliver some backstory on our group of soldiers. When they finally do - it's your typical sit around the campfire and tell us how your life sucks in 2 minutes kind of deal. I can forgive that. I can even forgive the digital blood that looks a little too videogame for my liking. Perhaps not as much as Ninja Assassin, but it's still a little cartoony. Why do I forgive such ridiculousness? The action choreography was great. I don't know who finally said - Hey let's hack the guy in the face instead of the chest - but whoever did - is a genius. It just looks so much more brutal.
That's what Centurion is - a brutal, uncompromising survival movie. Nothing more - nothing less. Fassbender gives a great performance as he always does and delivers lines and emotion that always feel like they should be in some sort of award nominated film. Kurylenko does what she can in a character limited performance, not by her choice as she has zero speaking parts. Dominic West is also fun to watch as he hams it up in a supporting, short but sweet role as a fellow Roman commander.
Neil Marshall has a great vision when it comes to pushing the boundaries of what's ok in a movie. He's done this time and time again with low budgets and always makes his films feel bigger than they really are. Sometimes he gets a little too ambitious like he did with Doomsday and fell short, but I think he turned out a great little flick with Centurion. I had a King Arthur vibe for much of the movie and that's fine with me. It's just a shame there's no wide release planned at this time for Centurion - everybody deserves the chance to check this one out.
Here's the trailer: