Like every filmmaker who’s made a sword-and-sandals flick in the past 10 years, Neil Marshall hopes his movie Centurion is the new Gladiator.
The problem is, despite a good performance by Michael Fassbender and some decent bloodletting, the storyline is too anaemic to make for a truly rousing offering.
The year is AD 117 and in occupied Britain, the Romans are having problems subduing the savage Picts in the north.
When the enemy captures General Virilus (Dominic West), a group of soldiers under Quintus Dias (Fassbender) tries to rescue him.
The hunters soon become the hunted, though, when a Pict hit-squad, under the vengeful Etain (Olga Kurylenko), begins picking off the Romans.
The film only hits its stride when the Romans go on the run and Quintus shows his leadership qualities.
Even though he’s lumped with a plot as historically accurate and realistic as an Asterix comic, Fassbender puts in an enigmatic performance throughout.
He’s no Russell Crowe, of course, and Gladiator’s status as the best ancient epic in recent times is not challenged by Centurion.
Good for: Those who like men in leather skirts.
PIERRE DE VILLIERS