Movie Review: The Eagle

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy rottentomatoes.com

The military standard of the Roman Empire – more accurately known as SPQR (the senate and people of Rome) – was an eagle fabricated of gold.  No enemy was ever allowed to take and hold the eagle.  If, by chance, an eagle was lost to the enemy, the might of the entire Roman Empire was brought to bear in finding and regaining the eagle.  That’s the premise of the new movie – The Eagle -- directed by Kevin Macdonald, who also directed The Last King of Scotland.

The Eagle is the story of Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum), a Roman soldier, who is seeking the lost Eagle of the Ninth Legion, which was lost to the barbarians of Caledonia.  Marcus’ mission is to locate and take back the eagle.   In his search, Marcus is accompanied by his slave, Esca, played by Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott).  Esca despises Marcus for what he represents – the Roman Empire, which crushes and enslaves individuals and nations in its unquenchable thirst for more territory and more power.

Yet due to circumstances, the two men – master and slave – must rely upon one another.  As they battle their way through Caledonia (modern Scotland), a bond develops between Marcus and Esca.

There’s lots of cool swordplay and blood in The Eagle, along with intimidating savages, who are ready, willing, and able to exterminate Romans.  Think Full Metal Jacket set 1900 years earlier and you have an idea of how awesome the drama and action are.  This is due to an excellent screenplay, written by Macdonald and Jeremy Brock.

The stars of the movie are Tatum and Bell, but their roles receive outstanding support by Tahar Rahim (A Prophet), who, covered in menacing body paint plays the Seal Prince, and Donald Sutherland as Marcus’ uncle Aquila.

Anyone into action-adventure-combat flicks will enjoy The Eagle.  The reviewer gave it a B+.