Dir: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jared Harris and Kiefer Sutherland
Synopsis:. A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him
*Reviewer Note: This is a spoiler free review as always.*
Pompeii isn’t necessarily based on a true story but it is based on the historical event of Mount Vesuvius erupting and basically destroying the city of Pompeii and its citizens. Director Paul W.S. Anderson (The Resident Evil Franchise) takes this historical event and makes it a backdrop to his love story and gladiator movie.
The movie follows Milo (Harington aka Jon Snow), who as a boy watched his family and village get murdered by Romans lead by Roman senator Corvus (Sutherland). Being the only survivor, he gets taken and is raised into slavery in Britannia where he fights as a gladiator under the name “The Celt.” Milo is then shipped off to Pompeii where he will fight in the arena against the prized gladiator Atticus (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) for the seaside town’s wealthy citizens.
Along the way, Milo meets Cassia (Browning), the daughter of a wealthy, politically-minded Pompeii merchant (Harris) who wants his city to be a great one. Cassia returns to her home of Pompeii after being in Rome for over a year. Unbeknownst to her, her father has invited some people from Rome to help him improve his city. Leading the Roman visitors is Corvus, who has had some encounters with Cassia in Rome. During all this, Mount Vesuvius is slowly ready to blow
The movie isn’t really that bad. It takes elements from some other movies like Gladiator and Titanic, but it does try to be its own thing. The love plot is what drives the story of Milo and Cassia but even with their brief encounters, their story goes into full swing when the mountain erupts. It’s the gladiator storyline that takes the majority of the movie and actually leads into the destruction of Pompeii.
Harington does a fine job with his first lead-starring role. Harington plays Milo as a man who lets his actions do the talking for him. He has the ability make Milo a killing machine to a man that will give a woman, Cassia, a loving look. Speaking of Cassia, Emily Browning gives Cassia some likeable traits but still ends up becoming the damsel-in-distress. Her parent actors Harris and Carrie-Anne Moss don’t really serve the movie much expect for moving the political aspect of the movie, which is literally about ten minutes. Jessica Lucas pops up as Cassis’s friend/handmaiden as well but, again, doesn’t do much.
Next to Harington, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Atticus shares the most screen time where he serves as a rival turned friend and gladiator looking for his freedom. Dare I say, he might be the fan favorite by the end. Kiefer Sutherland’s villain chews up his scenes and is just bad for almost no reason, but it’s Sutherland so I was okay with it.
But, the big thing the movie pushes for is the destruction of Pompeii, and for those wondering if the movie is going to push the destruction until the very end you’ll be happy to know the volcano erupts around the midway point of the movie. Some of the volcanic destruction set-pieces are impressive, but some just fall flat.
All in all, Pompeii isn’t that original but will probably still manage to at least keep you entertained until the very end. Beside the volcanic eruption that we wait for, the gladiator aspect of the film is probably the highlight of the movie.
3 out of 5