Here’s a little history for those who feel that the internet ought to be about education. In approximately 100 A.D. the 9th Roman Legion went to north Britanica (what is now Scottland) for further expanse and conquest, but was never heard from again. There…..now that we got that out of the way, let us get to the rewiew. Using this fact as a working background, Channing Tatum (who stared in the illustrious Step Up and the impecable G.I. Joe) stars as Marcus LongNamicus Romanisus, the son of the General of the missing 9th Legion. With his families name dishonored, he is promoted to Centurian (a leader of a garrison of men) and chooses as his assignment, North Britain and the Hadrian Wall. It is here that he seeks to reclaim his families glory with heroic deeds and dreamy eyes. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait long to watch him get a shot with either.
This is where we insert the first of what has become a staple of Hollywoods action scenes. A lot of hand to hand combat, filmed up close with unanchored cameras. I know this is to try and give us a feeling of being in the heat of the moment, but it just gives me a headache and gives the fight coreographer the day off. (“Ok guys when the camera gets close, just throw punches and wiggle wildly.”) Anyway, in an attempt to save the life of his men, Marcus is wounded and is soon discharged from the army. It is during his recovery that we meet Esca played well by Jamie Bell (who turned in a powerful performance opposite Daniel Craig in Defiance). Esca is a purchased slave who vows a life-debt to Marcus due to Marcus’s mind-control over an unruly crowd.
When a rumor from the north that the 9th’s Standard (A Gold Eagle) has been seen after 20 years, our young Marcus takes his newly aquired slave and seeks to reclaim his father’s Standard and his families honor. Now it’s just him and his British born slave who must face harsh travel, bad weather and poor dental plans all the while testing the bounds of honor and loyalty. Throw in a couple of cameo’s by Mark Strong, and you’ve got yourself an action film that will draw you in and keep you in your seat for it’s entire running time. If you’re looking for a movie to see with the guys, this would work. If you want a movie to see with the wife or girlfriend (just make sure it’s on different nights) then it works here too. Solid acting, good story and only a few “Hollywood” moments have this movie working in the right direction. A solid 4/5 ships.