If Etain is hunting you, you might as well be dead already
It’s refreshing to see a film such as Centurion which showcases what the British film industry is capable of when it’s not in horror, period drama or bleak social drama mode. It’s a small, bloody, action packed piece of entertainment.
With Neil Marshall coming off Doomsday which received poor reviews, it feel as if this film was a way back to getting back to making a simpler film. That’s not a dig against Centurion, the point being that it’s not really aiming for any lofty target. It’s a small story told on the epic canvas that is the Scottish countryside, a film that works as a chase film and not an historical epic.
It’s fascinating (to me at least) to see stories about the tribes clashing with Roman forces as Britain was beginning to take shape. The Pitts are barbaric but they’re also victims of an invasion. The Romans warrant some sympathy, sent to a land far away from home to fight against a people who are not in the mood to relinquish. No side is truly seen as the enemy or the good guys, just two factions that refuse to give an inch to the other side.
Violence follows by the bucketload. At times it doesn’t quite convince, not due to the physicality but the rather noticeable CG blood that takes you out of an action scene.
It’s a film that wheels along at a brisk pace but still feels the need to insert a love story. It’s not completely detrimental, but it does feel forced, unsubtle and is the most unsatisfying element of the film. Its set up makes the ending more obvious than it should be, spoiling the tension and leaving the film to drift on auto-pilot with viewer a step ahead the film.
The film’s most surprising aspect is Olga Kurylenko’s performance as tracker Etain. For a few years she was pushed in front of the camera and asked to be a sex symbol without little reason to show off any of her acting ability. There isn’t much to the character and it’s not a revelatory performance, but more often than not Kurlyenko locks you in with her fierce stare.
The acting all round is more than decent, each actor doing what is asked of them. The humour and violence are debauched, promiscuous and very British. Foul language abounds and some of the kills will have you chuckling.
So a better than expected film, which largely entertains by being a violent, rollicking chase film.