I’ve been a fan of stories about the Romans versus the Britons and the Picts ever since first reading Robert E. Howard’s Bran Mak Morn stories many years ago. I’ve read a number of novels and watched several movies with this setting. CENTURION is a film I hadn’t seen until recently. It’s another one concerning the fate of the Ninth Legion, the famous Lost Legion that was the last Roman military force north of what came to known as Hadrian’s Wall.
Michael Fassbender plays a young Roman centurion who finds himself cut off with a few companions far behind Pictish lines after the rest of their forces are either killed or taken prisoner in a trap sprung by the Picts. The rest of the movie concerns their attempt to survive and make it back to Roman lines. As you might expect, there’s a lot of action with swords, pikes, battle axes, and the like. Blood flows (and splatters) copiously. Heads roll, as Joe Bob Briggs used to say. Much of the action is done in that quick-cut editing style that old geezers such as myself don’t like, but some of it is pretty effective. The acting is okay, and the scenery, when it’s not being obscured by gore, is beautiful.
What finally worked against the movie for me is its unrelenting grimness. I realize, given the subject matter, the story can’t be all sweetness and light, and the ending is not without hope. I wouldn’t say that CENTURION is a bad movie, but rather that it’s just a bleak, bloody film that I never really warmed up to. It’s worth watching, though, especially if you have an interest in that particular era.
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