The Eagle, starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, and Donald Sutherland, tells the tale of a young new commander, Marcus Flavius Aquila, who takes command over a forgotten Roman battalion in the northernmost part of the Roman empire….Britain. In addition to being surrounded by tribe-esque clans warring against them, Aquila faces a trifecta of obstacles to overcome including public disgrace to his family name, personal pride, and physical pain.
After being stationed at his first command, Marcus learns of a rumor that the infamous standard of the Ninth, The Eagle, had been spotted in the northern quadrant of Britain, past Hadrian’s wall. The Eagle, the symbol of The Ninth regiment, was lost in battle under command of Marcus’ father. This recent news of The Eagle prompts Marcus to endeavor to find The Eagle and return it to its rightful place of glory in Rome….for himself, his father, his family, and his country! Reluctantly along for the ride is his slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), who ends up being more than he seems and plays a vital part in the plot. We follow Marcus and Esca for the majority of the film as they seek to find The Eagle and hope to retrieve it and return to the safety of Roman rule alive. Their travels take them to many uncharted areas with encounters that lead to a few surprises.
For those expecting a “Gladiator” movie, prepare for disappointment. Movies presented by Focus Features often excel in their ability to convey character development throughout their movies as opposed to action. This is the strength of this film rather than the blood and guts of the battlefield. Don’t get me wrong…there still is a decent amount of action in the movie. Swords, spears, chariots, and some bloodshed do exist, but the main focus of the film is the development of the two main figures, Marcus and Esca. The challenges they face make them prove their worth, their fortitude, their dedication to (or against) their cause, and also their commitment to (or against) each other.
The film is slow at times, but still decently develops. Think The Last Samurai meets Gladiator meets Last of the Mohicans. The beginning and ending tie the story together well, but it’s the middle that drags. It is interesting that with as many movies about Rome that exist, there is little political play in The Eagle. Part of the excitement of any Roman-based story is the part that politics plays. Including more of this aspect would have greatly strengthened the film. I’m sorry, but Tatum’s acting (while somewhat decent in this one) is not enough to carry an audience through this long and somewhat drawn out film. He did not ruin the film, but he did not make it astounding either. It is Jamie Bell who steals the show with his part as Esca. (This review is entitled, For Whom The BELL Tolls, due to the fact that it is Jamie Bell that carries this movie more so than its star, Channing Tatum. Bell does the work for him.) As with most films like this, there is a level of predictability that disappoints, but is expected. The Eagle is what it is…an historical melodrama about a centurion looking to win back the honor lost by his father…a disgraced centurion…on his own, regardless of what stands in his way, including himself.
I recommend renting it, or netflix-ing it instead of going to the cinema for this one. Watch the movie, Centurion, before you do though, and tell me that you don’t see how The Eagle could possibly be an unofficial sequel.
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Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy Watching!
–TheSp1der’s Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars for “The Eagle”
up next: The Weekend Wrap! and the review for I Am Number Four