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Submitted by admin on August 26, 2010 – 11:51 pmNo Comment

Centurion is a film for people who thought that Gladiator wasn’t violent enough or that King Arthur was not realistic enough. In truth, the recent Bruckheimer produced King Arthur was very realistic in depicting Romans in England and their dealing with the Picts or Celtic tribes of that era. Centurion is set in 177 A.D., and brims with wooly period clothing, thatched huts and wooden forts, as well as a sense of the Romans succumbing to the Picts style of guerilla warfare.

As far as the violent tone of Centurion consider that writer/director Neil Marshall also helmed the horror film in a cave The Descent. Yet the battle sequences in Centurion are far scarier than monsters in the dark. The first bit of action involved a soldier having a wooden spear thrust through his groin. There’s no wink-wink Kill Bill humor to the massive battle sequences so much as a feeling that nobody could possibly be left alive after all the carnage on display. I’ve never seen so many limbs hacked off with axes and other intricate sharp weapons. Soldiers get cut in half by broadswords the length of a Smart Car.

It’s safe to say that Marshall has sublimated all this death and destruction as a necessary part of the narrative. The main character, Quintas Dias, a Centurion and a fugitive himself from Rome (Michael Fassbinder), has as many issues with his fellow Romans as with the Britton natives. Colorful characters include a woman tracker who fights as tough as any male. When Etain (a fierce Olga Kurylenko) paints her face blue before one battle the narration reminds us that the make-up is a spiritual rite as well as intimidating face paint.

Centurion, in limited release and opening this weekend at the Angelika, has much more action than typical studio films while at the same time offering a select view of an ancient era with the angle of the hardships of the times. In that sense it should have support from the action movie crowd as well as the art house crowd who will read the occasional subtitles (some of the film’s characters speak Gaelic) with delight.

- Michael Bergeron

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