In 140 AD, two men—master and slave—venture beyond the edge of the known world on a dangerous and obsessive quest that will push them beyond the boundaries of loyalty and betrayal, friendship and hatred, deceit and heroism…
20 years earlier, Rome’s 5,000-strong Ninth Legion, under the command of Flavius Aquila, marched north carrying their treasured golden Eagle emblem. They never returned; Legion and Eagle simply vanished into the mists.
Hearing a rumor that the Eagle has been seen in a tribal temple in the far north, Flavius' son Marcus (Channing Tatum, Dear John), determined to restore the tarnished reputation of his father, is galvanized into action. Accompanied only by his slave Esca (Jamie Bell, Jane Eyre), Marcus sets out into the vast and dangerous highlands of Scotland—to confront its savage tribes, make peace with his father’s memory and retrieve the hallowed Eagle.
Along the way Marcus realizes that the mystery of his father’s disappearance may well be linked to the secret of his own slave’s identity and loyalty—a secret all the more pressing when the two come face-to-face with the warriors of the fearsome Seal Prince (Tahar Rahim).
Directed by Academy Award® winner Kevin Macdonald (Best Documentary 1999, One Day in September), with a screenplay adapted by Jeremy Brock from Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic novel The Eagle of the Ninth, this thrilling Roman epic is sure to take your breath away.
Fresh: The Eagle appeals to my older self while retaining what made my childhood reading so stirring.-Philip French, Guardian [UK], March 28, 2011
Fresh: Has all the ingredients of a terrific adventure thriller: an epic quest narrative, strong characters, the tangled interplay of pride, loyalty and masculinity.-Sukhdev Sandhu, Daily Telegraph, March 24, 2011
Fresh: A decent, forthright, if finally uninspired sword'n'sandal drama, based on Rosemary Sutcliff's 1954 children's novel The Eagle of the Ninth.-Peter Bradshaw, Guardian [UK], March 24, 2011
Fresh: Best of all is Anthony Dod Mantle's breathtaking photography: the Scottish Highlands have never looked so eerily, threateningly beautiful.-Tom Huddleston, Time Out, March 23, 2011
I suppose the best thing I can say about “The Eagle” is that it isn’t your typical sword-and–sandals gladiator/ancient warrior epic. It does not follow the generic formula of such a film, it lacks a one-dimensional villain, the fate of the world does not hang in the balance, and there is no female love interest for the protagonist to rescue—in fact, there are barely any women at all in this film. “The Eagle” tells the story of Marcus Aquila (a woefully miscast Channing Tatum), a young Roman soldier who longs to venture north of Hadrian’s Wall in order to retrieve the titular standard and redeem the honor of his father, whose legion was slaughtered in the region and whose defeat brought dishonor to Rome. While recuperating from a serious injury he suffered during an act of valor, Marcus rescues a young slave, Esca (a surprisingly intense Jamie Bell), from death during a gladiator battle. As they journey to the north in search of the eagle, the growing bond between Marcus and Esca betrays a small degree of homoeroticism, but any hint of that is quickly quashed when they are captured by “savages” who look suspiciously like American Indians. The film then degenerates into a series of set pieces that exemplify loyalty and honor, and the film ends with a dialogue exchange between Marcus and Esca that seems to be lifted directly from the script of any B-grade cop/buddy flick you can name. I can’t quite imagine who the filmmakers thought this mess would appeal to, but regardless of the target audience, this film misses the mark by a wide margin.
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