In 2010 writer / director Neil Marshall (“Dog Soldiers”, “Doomsday”) released his fourth feature film as writer and director, “Centurion“.
A lone Roman soldier, Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender – “Shame”, “Frank”) is running through a wintry landscape, being pursued by Picts on horseback. Dias is a centurion who was taken captive when his garrison was overrun by the Picts.
As he is able to speak the local language, Dias was taken to King Gorlacon (Ulrich Thomsen – “Hitman”, “The Thing”) who tortured and interrogated him before he managed to escape.
The Roman governor of Britannia, hoping for a transfer back to Rome, has dispatched the Ninth Legion, under the command of General Titus Flavius Virilus (Dominic West – “Pride”, “300”) to crush the Pictish rebellion, hoping that victory will lead to his transfer.
As a guide, the governor has provided a Brigantian, Etain (Olga Kurylenko – “The November Man”, “Quantum Of Solace”), who is a proficient scout and tracker.
The Ninth Legion rescue Dias during their march north, and he joins them in their quest. However, unbeknownst to them, Etain was previously taken in by the Picts and so leads the Legion into an ambush where all but a few Romans are killed and the General taken captive by Gorlacon.
The remaining Romans, including Septus (Lee Ross – “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes”), Bothos (David Morrissey – “Welcome To The Punch”) and Brick (Liam Cunningham – “Let Us Prey”), under the leadership of Dias, attempt to rescue the General and subsequently find themselves tracked through the wild Scottish landscape by a group of Picts who are using Etain’s tracking skills.
It is during their desperate bid to escape from behind enemy lines and return south that the Romans come across a remote hut in the forest where an exiled Pict, Arianne (Imogen Poots – “That Awkward Moment”) lives, having been thrown out accused of witchcraft.
This is an entertaining, though historically inaccurate, movie. There is plenty of bloodshed and convincing battle scenes. The scenery is wonderful and the acting is pretty good throughout.
Historically though, remembering that the opening of the film states the date is AD 117… The govenor, named as Julius Agricola (Paul Freeman – “Hot Fuzz”) seems to have been dead by AD 93; The Ninth Legion is thought to have perished sometime around AD 108, although there is some evidence that it may have been in the Netherlands after that; Hadrian’s Wall, which makes an appearance, isn’t thought to have been started until AD 122; plus the Picts aren’t found in recorded history until around AD 297. Ah well…
However, as a film using various truths from history as a basis to mix with fictions and create an entertaining and engaging story, this one works very well until the very end. At that point, I just thought WTF?! I won’t spoil it for anyone that hasn’t watched the film, but the ending was frankly ridiculous. If you can get past that, and ignore the liberties with history then this is actually a decent film…