The Eagle – Review
I love the sword-and-sandal genre. Always have. I’m a big fan of the TV shows Rome and Spartacus: Blood and Sand, so I was definitely primed for some more Roman action in The Eagle.
Channing Tatum plays Marcus Aquila, son of a disgraced (and missing) military leader. His father lost a gold eagle, the symbol of Rome, while on a mission in northern Britain. Marcus is eager to redeem his family’s honor and is already a military leader in his own right. The movie opens with a couple examples showing his courage and leadership in battle. They’re pretty good action scenes and a fun way to jump right in to the movie.
Through unforseen events, Marcus has to find another way to redeem his honor than military victory. So he decides to go investigate his father’s, and the eagle’s disappearance.
Jamie Bell plays his slave, Esca. Esca doesn’t like the Romans, or what they do, but he feels bound by honor to serve Marcus, who saved his life. It sets up an interesting dynamic, where the two men on this mission don’t like each other, but do trust each other. Esca also feels bold enough to directly tell Marcus why he hates the Romans, knowing his master will listen to him without reprisal. The trust begins to grow strained though, as they find out certain things on the mission.
Channing Tatum gets a lot of grief for being a wooden actor. But his character here is a man of few words, who leads by action. It plays to his strengths and he does a good job. Jamie Bell is given a more emotional role and does very well, never giving the audience a sure sense of his allegiances. Supporting roles are provided by Donald Sutherland and one of my favorites, Mark Strong.
The scenery is majestic, although washed out. I’m sure it’s realistic for the barren Scottish highlands, although it’s not glamorous. The action is pretty good, although suffers a big for being PG-13 instead of R. It just can’t convey the same intensity.
The ending does a very good job of coming full circle and is a very satisfying way to leave the theater. It does get a little slow in the middle, and it’s not as good as the aforementioned Rome and Spartacus on TV, but I did enjoy it.