By Scott Weinberg (reprint from 3/18/2010 -- SXSW Film Festival)

Imagine a flick like Braveheart, 300, Gladiator, or King Arthur, only those films have just been stripped of all those boring scenes about kings and princes, peasants and slaves, taxes and trades, and all that jazz. The result would be a movie that looks a lot like Neil Marshall's Centurion, a fast-paced, visually stunning, and action-heavy period piece that focuses on what matters most in a Saturday afternoon matinee: the good stuff. Boasting nary a subplot or an extraneous character to deal with, Centurion seems fully intent on delivering an old-school action adventure that tickles the eye without taxing the brain. And it succeeds on all counts.

It's the story of Centurion Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender), a trusted officer in the Roman army. Following a brutal attack by the barbaric Picts (ancient Scots are what they are, I do believe), Quintus finds himself stuck deep inside an enemy village -- but not for long. Quintus' escape is aided by the last few survivors of the legendary Ninth Legion, and together the small band of soldiers must make their way to a friendly border. Not only do they have a long way to go, but they also have on their tails a tenacious group of Pict trackers, which is led by the ferociously unwavering Etain (Olga Kurylenko).