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Centurion (2010)

Director: Neil Marshall
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Liam Cunningham, David Morrissey, Imogen Poots, Ulrich Thomsen
Rated R,  97 minutes

CENTURION is a bloody, action-packed film that speculates about one of the great mysteries of Western history: the fate of the legendary Ninth Legion of Rome. More specifically, it riffs on the often disputed theory that the army marched into Scotland to break the Picts and were never seen or heard from again. Here the Ninth, led by the incredibly badassed General Virilus (Dominic West) are sent on a final, all-out push with the intention of assassinating the Pict king Gorlacon (Ulrich Thomsen). To accomplish this seemingly impossible task, Virilius is ordered to use a fierce Pict warrior woman named Etain to guide them into the heavily booby-trapped Pict territory. It's no surprise when Etain betrays Virilus and leads the Ninth into a devastating ambush that wipes out all but a handful of Roman soldiers. The remaining men, led by Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender; EDEN LAKE), must fight their way back home, while being pursued by a band of bloodthirsty Pictish warriors.

It's important to note that CENTURION is NOT a film that is interested in historical accuracy. Director Neil Marshall (DOG SOLDIERS; THE DESCENT; DOOMSDAY) has repeatedly stated that the film is an action-thriller based on legend, not recorded fact. Still, that point hasn't stopped many from trashing the film for not staying true to history. If anything, the biggest weakness here is the sense that Marshall tried to tell a story that was bigger than time and money would allow. Some characters aren't developed enough, and the story seems to jump ahead too often, particularly early in the film. As a result, CENTURION loses some of the epic feel that it could have had.

Instead, CENTURION is more like a gloriously violent comic book-style tale with likable heroes and fearsome villains, with a bit of political intrigue thrown in for good measure. There's a lot of familiar faces here (including Liam Cunningham from DOG SOLDIERS and "Game of Thrones," and David Morrissey from the RED RIDING trilogy and "The Walking Dead"), sexy warrior women, and all the gory sword-and-spear action a movie like this should deliver.

3.5 out of 5.

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