There was this super secret screening of a film Monday night here at SXSW. Eveyone No one knew anything about it, or what film it even was. It ended up being an exclusive engagement, and a lucky night for the people who had their eyes filled with Neil Marshall’s Centurion.
Anyone who knew anything about Centurion was already labeling it as a ‘sword and sandal flick’, and was ready to compare it to films like 300 or Gladiator. First of all, those are very different films than Centurion. Secondly, I liked Centurion better than 300 or Gladiator. The film takes a very different approach than most of the Roman battle films. It is dark, dirty, real and focus’ more on the soldiers than the glory of the generals. You get to see some awesome guerrilla warfare, the fear and suspense of survival and some of the bloodiest and visceral kill scenes of recent memory. I will further support this claim, as it will surely cause some words, by saying that Michael Fassbender is one of the finest actors in Hollywood today. Fassbenders performance is greater than Russel Crowe’s in Gladiator (Which I never thought was Oscar worthy anyway), and Fassbender exhibits a better range and versatility than Gerard Butler. Sorry Gerard, I do love your work though.
The film takes a story that has been passed down as myth, and pays tribute to soldiers that gave their lives only to be erased from history. Director Neil Marshall tells this story in a really great way that makes you cheer from one moment to the next, but also creates a great connection to these characters and their plight. I think this is Marshall’s most ambitious film to date. He takes Olga Kurylenko and creates a character within the film that doesn’t speak a single word. Most of the Pict warriors hardly spoke as well. Essentially the film was crafted around the chase, and did a wonderful job. Not to mention, along with Kurylenko, Axelle Carolyn also represented the female gender with strong and intimidating performances. I would also say that this is one of the more accessible films that Marshall has released so far, in the way that their is a great story and endearing characters fixed within a brutal tale of survival of the fittest. Not to say that the film holds anything back, it is still an awesome bad-ass bloodbath.
Check out our 16 minute conversation with Neil Marshall and Axelle Carolyn.