The Eagle is a surprisingly good historical epic following a small band of soldiers in their efforts to recover a stolen treasure. Despite what you may think about Channing Tatum, he was pretty solid here. Of course, I think that perhaps Michael Fassbender would be a better fit but what can you do. And I’m not just saying that because he was so good in Centurion. Speaking of which, I recommend you watch that movie first and than this one. Mostly because The Eagle picks up the story right after the ending of Centurion.
The cinematography was excellent along with production values. And don’t be expecting any of the 300 shit because this is a more grounded and realistic adventure. Long gone are the days of Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven and King Arthur. Those three movies, all released within the span of two years revived this almost forgotten genre. And I don’t need to tell you what happened when people saw Gerard Butler’s abs. However, 2000’s Gladiator is perhaps the most similar one although it features a much bigger story.
Now, the story here is just contained enough to allow for some pretty intense battles but without looking too unrealistic. The fights are brutal, visceral and fascinating. You can see why the Romans conquered half the world. And just to make things a bit clearer, I was cheering for the barbarians here, as these assholes came on their land and just took it. So, you might say that the characters are a bit fucked here but what can you do.
Marcus Aquila is the son of a shamed 9th legion commander that disappeared in the wilderness of Scotland. All his life he was hoping that he will be able to clear his family name and prove that his father died honorably if he died at all. He travels to Great Britain, determined to find out what happened to the ninth legion and their banner, the golden eagle.
I will not reveal the rest of the story, although it is a bit predictable. Now, historians are still debating whether the story in The Eagle and the novel upon which the movie was made is actually real. Ultimately, that doesn’t make much difference as the movie is definitely worth watching. Especially if you like historical epics. I do recommend you check out the television series Rome if you haven’t already.
When it comes to the themes explored here, we have the infamous father-son relationship along with a long road to redemption. A classic hero’s journey. Add to this a bit bravery, honor and friendship and you got yourself quite a nifty little flick. The atmosphere is foreboding throughout keeping you on your toes and making you feel like our heroes as they traverse these dangerous lands.
Also, you should know that after that furious start, the pacing slows down significantly, so don’t be expecting a non-stop bloodbath here. At least you’ll have those beautiful landscapes to help pass the time. One of the biggest flaws of The Eagle is the portrayal of the tribes, they look like a cross between Hawaiians and Na’vi (Avatar people), with a pretty feisty attitude. Their haircuts were hilarious and pretty fancy for 140 AD.
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Writers: Jeremy Brock, Rosemary Sutcliff
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Paul Ritter, Lukács Bicskey, Donald Sutherland
Fun Facts: The main character’s name is Marcus Aquila. Aquila is the Latin word for “Eagle”.