With breathtaking scenery, thrills and blood spills galore this film could have been the next Gladiator but sadly there was just too much carnage during the non-stop fight or flight scenes, not enough development of characters, and a less than impressive ending.
The film opened with the scenes of a bare-chested and haggard looking man running for his life having escaped the clutches of a warrior clan called the Picts. Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender ), the sole survivor of a Pictish raid on a frontier fort, miraculously runs into a band of fellow Roman soldiers and is saved only to march north again with General Virilus’ (Dominic West ) legendary Ninth Legion.
The year is 117 AD and the conquest of northern Britain by the Roman Empire has ground to a halt because of the guerrilla tactics used by the Picts who prefer to ‘pick away at the scab’ rather than engage their enemy in open combat. The Ninth Legion are ordered to wipe out the Picts and destroy their leader Gorlacon. However, the legion is ambused and decimated. Only a handful of men, including Dias, survive the attack, and they go on an impossible mission to save Virilus who has been taken captive.
This is where the real struggle begins, as a team of Picts, led by ruthless expert tracker Etain (Olga Kurylenko ), relentlessly hunt down Dias and his small band of men who find themselves deep behind enemy lines. They are now on the run for their lives against their fierce and cunning enemy, against the unforgiving terrain, and against themselves.
The film began on a high note, getting straight into the action, and there were plenty of gore scenes that had you gasping “Ooooh” and “Argh” sounds, however, after a while this all became too much. The director Neil Marshall, hooked on bloodlust, seems to have forgotten about developing the storyline and characters further. Fassbender who is an excellent actor could only do so much to create a real hero in Dias. The really impressive performance was by Kurylenko who played the really strong character of mute Etain. All this action, chasing, and bloody scenes should have led up to an incredible ending but sadly this was not the case.
If you’re into an action movie set well into the past then you might like this one, just don’t expect greatness.