Neil Marshall’s Centurion is not for the faint-hearted. It’s an extremely violent and gory action film in which heads and limbs are removed by slashing swords and every body part that can be skewered, is. In fact, it’s almost too violent: once you’ve seen five decapitations, you’ve pretty much seen them all. However, Marshall knows how to handle action and he doesn’t skimp on battle sequences, so if you want a gritty and violent sword and sandal action film, then Centurion is for you.
The film opens with a bloody attack on a Roman outpost and the only survivor is Quintus Dias (played by Michael Fassbender), who barely escapes, only to happen upon the Ninth Legion as they march into Scotland, led by a mute Pict guide named Etain (Olga Kurylenko). Etain betrays the Legion, who are all but destroyed by the violent attack. The survivors (alongside Quintus Dias) set off in pursuit of the Picts, in order to save their Commander Titus Flavius Virilus (Dominic West). However, their plan isn’t entirely successful and soon they find themselves being hunted by Etain and her band of ferocious Pict warriors.
Neil Marshall is a director who likes to wear his inspiration on his sleeve – and when watching Centurion it is easy to see where his ideas came from. The Germanic opening of Gladiator is clearly a visual inspiration for the 2010 film – as are Aliens and Apocalypto – so it’s good to see that Marshall borrows from the best. Now, Centurion isn’t as good as those films, but Marshall certainly gives it his best shot.
From a budget of $12 million, Centurion grossed $123,570 at the US box office and $6.89 million worldwide.