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Centurion

Year: 2010
Production Co: Pathé Pictures International
Director: Neil Marshall
Writer: Neil Marshall
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, David Morrisey, Paul Freeman

Neil Marshall is a lot like one of his heroes, George A Romero. You could feel the passion and energy is his low budget debut Dog Soldiers, and ever since then when studios have given him money it's all just felt a little hazy, not really sure of itself, more style and substance.

The same problems apply here even though the picture on screen look great and he's tried hard to bring an authentic Roman era to life (instead of the pristine leather sandals and shining feather helmets of Cleopatra and its Hollywood golden years contemporaries).

It's based on the true story of the ninth legion, which disappeared behind the enemy lines of the bloodthirsty Picts – the North Vietnamese army of the day (familiar with the terrain and whose tactics repelled one invading force after another). As Marshall imagines it, the Ninth fell after a Pict attack when their scout, a Pict woman (Kurylenko) betrayed their position to her people, revealing herself to have been a spy in their ranks.

The handful of bedraggled survivors are led by a centurion who's already been in the Pict's clutches and escaped, and he leads them through the freezing forests of Scotland trying to reach safety, the fearsome female tracker hot on their heels accompanied by her band of killers.

Limbs and heads are chopped and blood showered with gay abandon, almost a slasher than a historical thriller, and it's mostly satisfying but feels a little empty.

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