Centurion (UK 2010, 97 min. dir: Neil Marshall, cast: Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, Imogen Poots).
Running movies never run out of breath. The curious question with Michael Fassbdender is: after revealing the super size of his penis in Shame, how he can run at all?
Centurion takes us to Britain in about 100 AD where the Romans have met their Afghanistan. Their idea was to bring civilization to the wild country up north; but it has pretty much failed. Picts and Brigantes roam the Highlands picking off the Romans with what will, a few thousand years later, be called guerilla warfare.
All of this really doesn’t matter much in a Neil Marshall movie (Descent, Dog Soldiers). The important concept in any running movie is to get them running. The best stripped down example is Cornel Wilde’s The Naked Prey.
Cornel (Kornel Lajos Weisz: nobody is born with a name like Cornel Wilde) is leading a hunting party into darkest Africa when they violate some tribal rules of hospitality. All the white men are captured and roasted alive or worse.
But they’ve got another game for Cornel. They strip him naked, set him running, and send the warriors after him to kill him. That’s the whole move, and it’s actually excellent.
In Centurion, the Roman 9th legion is destroyed in a battle with the Picts when their Brigantian scout, lovely Etain (former James Bond girl Olga Kurylenko), turns out to be working for the Picts. The Roman general is captured while a handful of dazed soldiers surreptitiously crawl out from under the dead.
They go to the Pict camp to save the general, but end up killing the chieftain’s little son. He’s so upset that he has Etain duel it out with the general and kill him. Next he sends his warriors out to slash down Quintas Dias (Michael Fassbender) and his gang. They keep running until they meet Arianne (Imogen Poots) who is so beautiful it is worth staying a while. She’s an outcast accused of witchcraft and takes a liking to Quintas (although it may be she likes the part of him he’ll reveal in Shame).
He leaves her to run into Hadrian’s Wall (under construction at the time). He’s a liability to the Romans because he knows they are losing. General Hadrian has his daughter try to kill him (women are the master assassins in this movie). Quintas runs away and joins Arianne in her clay and wattle hovel. He’s going to hang up his Nikes and stay put for a while.
Don’tt expect to learn much about Roman history in Centurion, or to understand why all the Roman’s speak good British English and all the Picts use subtitles. Just enjoy the jog.