Neil Marshall (The Descent, Doomsday) recasts the sword-and-sandal epic as a modern DC Comic in this tale of a British soldier's enslavement, escape, and engagement in "guerrilla warfare," circa 117 A.D. Marshall can't pass up a disemboweling or a strained confrontation, and one or the other arrives about every five minutes--along with plenty of battle scenes, torture, and helicopter shots. But he uses these elements so kinetically that the action has a compelling pictorial quality no matter how stupid it becomes as narrative. There's little here about soldiers and mercenaries that isn't lifted from other movies, though Marshall elicits a steady seriousness from his actors (especially Michael Fassbender, in an introverted lead performance), which generally keeps the movie from sliding into camp. Auteur cinema of a very narrow stripe, this personalizes a familiar genre to advance a singularly pessimistic view of humanity.
Director: Neil Marshall
Producer: Christian Colson, Robert Jones, Paul Smith, Cameron McCracken and François Ivernel
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, JJ Feild, Lee Ross, David Morrissey, Ulrich Thomsen, Ryan Atkinson, Paul Freeman, Liam Cunningham, Noel Clarke, Dimitri Leonidas, Riz Ahmed and Imogen Poots