THE EAGLE

5 out of 10

Release Date: 25th March 2011

Director: Kevin MacDonald (Black Sea / How I Live Now / State of Play / The Last King of Scotland / Touching The Void / One Day In September)

Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Tahir Rahim, Mark Strong, Denis O’Hare, Douglas Henshall, Ned Dennehy and Donald Sutherland

Writer: Rosemary Sutcliff

Trailer: THE EAGLE

The Eagle serves plotwise as a sequel to Neil Marshall‘s earlier Centurion.  This the story of the legendary Ninth legion that disappeared above the Scottish border during the Roman conquest.  Based on Rosemary Sutcliff‘s novel this surmises what happened to a clutch of survivors and the recovery the “Eagle” of the Ninth standard.  Channing Tatum (GI JOE) plays Marcus Flavius Avila, a young officer who is virtually the only survivor of an assault that disperses the said legion all over the hills.  With only his loyal but conflicted pathfinder, also a Celt slave, Esca (JAMIE BELL – JANE EYRE) to keep him alive in the wilds they must protect themselves against a vengeful, local ‘tribe’.  Chief amongst the tribe is Tahir Rahim’s (LE PROPHET) Seal Prince,  a courageous and deadly force for our heroes to reckon with.  Chances for survival are slim and Esca’s loyalties are under question at every turn seeing as he’s a Celt, protecting a Roman on Celtic soil.  They must try to make it back to the nearest Roman holding before they get caught and report the Ninth’s fate.

Admittedly, I watched this film some time ago so I’m struggling to recall details that won’t give away crucial plot points.  This does however indicate a solid yet unmemorable movie with standard performances across the board. Several good supporting characters pop up at the beginning, namely Donald Sutherland (THE HUNGER GAMES) doing his obligatory five minutes as a mentor / distinguished relative.  Mark Strong (TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY) is a member of the ninth but I can barely remember what he contributed. Elsewhere, I get muddled up with Centurion as the silent baddies (Olga Kurylenko in Centurion and Tahir Rahim, here) are interchangeable and the plots are justifiably very similar. These movies are usually pepped up by the old ‘Then there were none’ plot routine  but in The Eagle there simply aren’t enough characters to kill off in The Eagle and soon the endless too-ing and fro-ing of Esca’s allegiances and the bickering wears you down.  It’s well scored and beautifully shot in the highlands and on the whole is a predictable time passer.  Channing Tatum again proves that he’s more than just a blonde muscle man, but his best performance in Magic Mike is still a few years off.   Jamie Bell is also better than normal and was at the beginning of a career upswing with Tintin and Jane Eyre (2011).  Kevin MacDonald is a fine director but his other choices have been more interesting – see The Last King Of Scotland about Idi Amin‘s doctor, State Of Play and his documentaries.  Maybe its the book’s fault as this is  a boys own adventure and has had it’s focus broadened to include all men and not just young teenagers.  Anyone interesting in seeing a truly good  modern film about Roman Empire is still in waiting.

5 out of 10:  The Eagle is a competent time passer and works well as a sequel to Neil Marshall’s Centurion (eventhough they were unrelated productions).  Good performances and production cannot elevate this from the legions of mediocre product on offer. It’ll damage no-ones credibility but this is just an anonymous stepping stone movie for all involved. In a word, it’s OK.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?

  • Channing Tatum: Magic Mike 2, Jupiter Ascending, Foxcatcher, 22 Jump Street, The Lego Movie (voice), This Is The End, White House Down, GI Joe 2, Side Effects, Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street Movie, GI Joe, The Vow, Haywire, The Dilemna, Dear John, Public Enemies, Stop Loss, Step Up 1 & 2, Fighting, She’s The Man, Coach Carter
  • Jamie Bell: Fantastic Four (2015), Snowpiercer, Nymphomaniac 2, Filth, Retreat, Man On a Ledge, Tintin (voice), Jane Eyre (2011), Defiance,  Jumper, Hallam Foe, Flags Of Our Fathers, King Kong (2004), Dear Wendy, Undertow, Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Deathwatch, Billy Elliott
  • Tahar Rahim: Samba, The Past, A Prophet, Black Gold
  • Mark Strong: Grimsby, Kingsman – The Secret Service, The Imitation Game, Before I Go To Sleep, Blood (2013), Welcome To The Punch, Zero Two Dark, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Kick Ass, The Guard, John Carter, Black Gold, Robin Hood (2010), The Green Lantern,  The Way Back, Sherlock Holmes (2009), Rock-N-Rolla, Body Of Lies, Young Victoria, Flashbacks Of a Fool, Sunshine (2007), Stardust, Scenes Of a Sexual Nature, Revolver, Syriana, The Long Firm (TV), Heartlands, The Martins, Elephant Juice, Fever Pitch, Hotel (2001), Our Friends In The North (TV), Captives
  • Denis O’Hare: The Town That Dreaded Sundown, The Judge, The Pyramid, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Duplicity, Milk, A Mighty Heart
  • Douglas Henshall: Party Pieces, Salvation, Outlander (TV), Shetland (TV), Dorian Gray, Lawless Heart, Primeval (TV), This Year’s Love, Orphans, Fast Food, If Only, Angels & Insects
  • Ned Dennehy: Child 44, Roadkill (2015)The Woman In Black 2, Serena, Downhill, Scintilla, Peaky Blinders (TV), GrabbersStorage 24TyrannosaurBlitz, The Escapist
  • Donald Sutherland: Mockingjay 2, Mockingjay, Catch a Fire, The Hunger Games, Horrible Bosses, The Mechanic (2011), Fool’s Gold, Reign Over Me, An American Haunting, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Cold Mountain, The Italian Job (2003), The Art Of War, Space Cowboys, Instinct, Virus, Fallen, A Time To Kill, Outbreak, Disclosure, Six Degrees Of Seperation, Benefit Of The Doubt, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, JFK, Backdraft, Lock Up, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978), National Lampoon’s – Animal Farm, Don’t Look Now, Klute, The Eagle Has Landed, Kelly’s Heroes, M*A*S*H*
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