Centurion - Genre thrills and modern parallels from Roman soldiers on the run

Neil Marshall’s gory historical action thriller Centurion depicts a handful of Roman soldiers striving to out-run and out-fight belligerent local tribes after their legion is wiped out in an ambush in ancient Britain, circa AD 117.

The sight of a technologically superior occupying force coming a cropper in hostile foreign territory inescapably brings modern Afghanistan to mind, but Marshall (maker of werewolf movie Dog Soldiers, potholing horror flick The Descent and post-apocalyptic action movie Doomsday) probably has such genre classics as The Warriors and Southern Comfort equally in mind.

Michael Fassbender, so good - and so versatile! - in The Hunger, Fish Tank and Inglorious Basterds, makes a muscular hero as Quintus Dias, the legionary we’re rooting for the most; The Wire's Dominic West stamps his authority on the role of his commander; and former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko is scarily remorseless as the mute Pictish tracker on the Romans’ trail.

Released on 16th August.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.