Centurion (film)


Theatrical release poster
Directed by Neil Marshall
Produced by Christian Colson
Robert Jones
Written by Neil Marshall
Starring Dominic West
Michael Fassbender
Olga Kurylenko
Music by Ilan Eshkeri
Cinematography Sam McCurdy
Editing by Chris Gill
Studio Celador Films
Distributed by Pathé (UK)
Magnet Releasing (US)
Release date(s) United Kingdom
23 April 2010
United States
27 August 2010
Running time 97 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $12 million
Gross revenue $6,168,898

Centurion is a 2010 British film directed by Neil Marshall. It centres around the legendary disappearance of the Ninth Legion in Caledonia. The movie stars Dominic West, Michael Fassbender & Olga Kurylenko.



It is 117 A.D. and the Roman garrisons are struggling to contain the Picts, the original inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands. The Picts, under their king, Gorlacon, are perfecting guerilla warfare and are eliminating Roman outposts one by one. Centurion Quintus Dias is the only survivor of a Pictish raid and is taken prisoner by Vortix. In the meantime, Agricola, the Roman governor of Britannia wants to obtain favour with the central administration, hoping to secure a transfer back to the comforts of Rome. He dispatches the Ninth Legion to the front under General Titus Flavius Virilus, with orders to eradicate the Pict threat, providing him with a mute female Brigantian scout, Etain.

As the legion marches north, they encounter Dias, who has escaped but has been pursued by three of Gorlacon’s men. After killing the Picts and saving Dias, Virilus learns of Dias’s encounter with Gorlacon, as well as his escape from the Picts’ settlement, and he proudly makes Quintus one of his centurions. The general soon realizes that Quintus’s father was a famous gladiator, who won a fight that earned him his freedom. Dias soon meets and befriends two Roman officers in the legion, a veteran named Bothos and a young Roman soldier named Thax.

Etain, who hates the Romans for murdering her family, betrays the legion to Gorlacon; the Romans walk into a trap and are annihilated, while the general is captured by Pictish warriors. Dias, Bothos, and Thax, along with four other survivors, a veteran named “Brick”, two Greek-Roman legionaries named Macros and Leonidas, and Tarak, a cook from the Hindu Kush, learn that Virilus has been taken prisoner and set out to rescue him. After a few days’ travel, they find the Pict settlement and sneak in at nightfall. They silently kill several sentries, but fail to break the general’s chains; he orders them to leave him and get back to the safety of Roman territory. As they retreat, Thax kills Gorlacon’s young son and recovers General Virilus’s helmet. The next morning, after the dead boy is burned, the general is given a sword and made to duel with Etain, who kills him.

The seven decide to return south via a long detour over the mountains, while Etain, Aeron, Vortix, and a detachment of eight Pictish warriors are sent to kill them, in revenge for the king’s son. After several days’ pursuit, they eventually catch up with the fugitives, who jump off a cliff into a river. Tarak is killed by Aeron and another Pict archer before he can jump; the others survive the fall, but Macros and Thax end up separated from the others, discover Tarak’s body floating down the river, and are pursued by a pack of wolves.

With night falling, Dias and his group camp for the night, only to realize that their trackers have set up camp nearby. Dias and Brick launch a night raid on the enemy camp, killing two men and severely wounding a third, but do not find Etain. Interrogating the wounded Pict, Quintus learns of the death of Gorlacon’s son, and that the king has sworn vengeance on their heads. He also learns that Etain has launched her own attack on the Roman camp. He and Brick finish off the Pict and return to their camp, only to discover that Leonidas was killed and Bothos injured.

Macros and Thax, meanwhile, are still running from the wolves, with Macros, the faster runner, staying well clear of Thax, who eventually falls. When Macros returns to help him, Thax slices through Macros’ hamstrings to prevent him from running, allowing Thax to escape while the wolves attack and devour his former comrade.

Dias, Bothos and Brick happen upon a hut in the forest and befriend Arianne, a Pict exile accused of witchcraft, who lives there. She shelters them, provides food and medical attention and when Etain comes the following day, Arianne confronts her while the Romans hide under the floorboards. The next morning, with Bothos well enough to travel, they leave Arianne, who, having developed something of a connection with Dias, provides them with additional food, to travel to a nearby garrison. On arrival, they find it abandoned: an order on a wall informs them that Roman troops have retreated south, to Hadrian’s Wall. As they see Etain and her group of Picts approach, they set up a defensive position inside the fort. A battle ensues, in which Etain, Vortix, Aeron and the rest of the pursuers are all slain, although Brick perishes before the Picts are defeated.

Camping overnight on their way south, Dias and Bothos are reunited with Thax and the trio continue onwards. Upon reaching Hadrian’s Wall, Thax threatens Dias, who says that he will report his crimes and the two fight, with Dias as the victor. Bothos, riding joyfully towards the Roman construction works, is mistaken for a Pict and shot by Roman archers. When Dias enters the camp he reports the situation to the governor. Agricola, concerned that, should news of the Legion’s annihilation become common knowledge, other tribes may rise up against them, and also not wishing his record to be tainted by a military failure, decides that it would be better if the Ninth Legion’s fate remained a mystery and thus Dias must be killed.

The governor’s daughter is trusted with Dias’s assassination. He manages to disrupt the attempt on his life, killing two legionaries in the process, though he is grievously wounded in the thigh during the fracas. He escapes the camp and returns to Arianne in the forest. As he lies weakened from blood loss in her arms by the stream, he and Arianne embrace each other with a kiss. The film ends as Quintus Dias repeats the film’s opening line “…this is neither the beginning nor the end of my story.”



Centurion was written originally by director Neil Marshall under the working title Ninth Legion. The Ninth Legion, so the story goes, marched into Scotland from York with over 3,000 men and disappeared. In recent years historians have disputed the fate of the legion; some believe they were disbanded, while others believe they were massacred in Germania or in the East fighting the Persians during the early years of the second century. Marshall said of his take of the story, “It’s not meant to be historically perfect. I’m picking up on a legend and exploring it… it’s an action thriller.”[3] The tide of academic opinion seems to be returning to the view that the Legion was probably wiped out in Britain. In a recent book,[4] Dr Miles Russell of Bournemouth University observes that there is strong evidence for a catastrophic British war resulting in the annihilation of the legion early in the reign of Hadrian.

Filming began toward the end of February 2009.[5] Filming locations included the Scottish locations Badenoch, Strathspey,[3] and Glenfeshie Estate in the Cairngorms. Filming also took place at Ealing Studios in London and in Surrey locations,[6] such as Alice Holt Forest and Hurtwood Forest in the Surrey Hills.[7] Historical reenactment groups were enlisted to play Picts and Roman soldiers in the practical filming at Badenoch and Strathspey.[3] Filming was completed in March, after seven weeks.[8][9]

The production was designed by Simon Bowles with art direction by Jason Knox-Johnston. The sets were built by DRS Construction.[10]


Centurion was presold by Pathé to Constantin in Germany, Aurum in Spain, Hopscotch in Australia, Scanbox in Scandinavia and Odeon in Greece.[11] In February 2010, Magnet Releasing (Magnolia Pictures) acquired the rights for the US release, which is scheduled as part of the summer “Six Shooter Film Series”.[12]

The film was screened on 18 March 2010 at the South by Southwest Film Festival as the “Super Secret TBD” film. It was also the opening night premiere for the inaugural ActionFest film festival. The film was released on 30 July 2010 as video on demand on the Xbox Live Marketplace and Amazon.com.[13]


The film received mixed reception in the United Kingdom, it currently has a 56% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes.[14] The Birmingham Post gave the film two stars out of five saying “this hideously violent, formula one chase movie lacks the novelty of Mel Gibson‘s Apocalypto“.[15] Empire Magazine gave the film three stars out of five stating that the film “could have done with a lot more character-meat on those bones.”[16] Film4 gave the film two stars out of five stating “It’s just a shame none of this stuff was thought through a little more carefully, because there’s a talented cast here who have been hung out to dry.”[17] The Guardian gave the film two stars out of five stating that “this is exercise-bike cinema: energetic, relentless and tipping towards monotony”.[18] OneMetal gave Centurion 3/5 remarking that “what the film lacks in strong characters it more than makes up for in bloody action and incredible visuals.”[19]

See also


  1. ^ Kemp, Stuart (29 January 2009). “Marshall, Colson add trio to ‘Centurion’ cast”. The Hollywood Reporter
  2. ^ “First Look: Olga Kurylenko in Centurion”. Empire. 16 March 2009. http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=24388. Retrieved 18 March 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Ford, Coreena (22 March 2009). “Neil’s back into battle”. Sunday Sun. http://www.sundaysun.co.uk/news/north-east-news/2009/03/22/neil-s-back-into-battle-79310-23202827/. Retrieved 25 March 2009. 
  4. ^ Miles Russell (2010) Bloodline: the Celtic Kings of Roman Britain
  5. ^ Kemp, Stuart (6 February 2009). “Noel Clarke enlists in Marshall’s army”. The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/world/news/e3if08da6d1db7f9cb4bea5b4d0864c96b8. Retrieved 18 March 2009. 
  6. ^ Chetwynd, Samantha (9 February, 2009). “Big break for film fans in the north”. Press and Journal
  7. ^ “Alice Holt Forest News”. forestry.gov.uk. Forestry Commission. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-7aqe93. Retrieved April 6, 2009. 
  8. ^ Cooper, Sarah (12 June 2009). “Call of the Roman empire”. Screen International (Emap Media). http://www.screendaily.com/production/uk/call-of-the-roman-empire/5002439.article
  9. ^ Brian Pendreigh (August 15, 2009). “Pillage people”. Sunday Herald. http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.2525749.0.pillage_people.php. Retrieved August 25, 2009. 
  10. ^ DRS Construction
  11. ^ Masters, Charles (9 February 2009). “‘Centurion,’ ‘LOL’ latest in string of Pathe deals”. The Hollywood Reporter
  12. ^ Magnet Attracts Neil Marshall’s Centurion
  13. ^ New Green Band Trailer – Neil Marshall’s Centurion
  14. ^ “Centurion (2010)”. Rotten Tomatoes. http://uk.rottentomatoes.com/m/centurion/. Retrieved June 30, 2010. 
  15. ^ Young, Graham; Laws, Roz (April 21, 2010). “Movie Reviews: The Joneses; Date Night; It’s A Wonderful Afterlife; Centurion”. The Birmingham Post. http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/film-news/2010/04/21/movie-reviews-the-joneses-date-night-it-s-a-wonderful-afterlife-centurion-65233-26287010/. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  16. ^ Jolin, Dan. “Review of Centurion”. Empire Magazine. http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/review.asp?FID=136078. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  17. ^ Jolin, Dan. “Review of Centurion”. Film4. http://www.film4.com/reviews/2010/centurion. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  18. ^ Brooks, Xan (22 April 2010). “Flm Review: Centurion”. The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/apr/22/centurion-review. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  19. ^ Gough, Graham (3 September 2010). “OneMetal DVD Review: Centurion”. OneMetal. http://www.onemetal.com/2010/09/03/centurion/. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 

External links

[hide]v·d·eFilms directed by Neil Marshall
Dog Soldiers (2002) • The Descent (2005) • Doomsday (2008) • Centurion (2010)