Echoes of Gladiator abound in this second-rate swords-and-sandals adventure. But where Ridley Scott’s epic had Russell Crowe as father to a murdered son, director Doug Lefler’s clichéd knock-off has Mr Darcy playing nanny to the kid from Love Actually. Colin Firth’s general Aurelius is tasked with protecting Rome’s teenage emperor Romulus (Thomas Sangster) when Peter Mullan’s wig-wearing conqueror Odoacer hits town. Along for the ride are a grab-bag of jobbing Brits, including Ben Kingsley (clothes by Gandalf, voice and tan by Tom Jones) and Rome’s Kevin McKidd, both of them hammier than the deli counter at Tesco.
Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai provides eye-candy as an Eastern ally, but her flashy fight scenes count for nought due to a lily-livered edit that robs the film of the blood and guts it deserves. Thumbs down...
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