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The Eagle (2011)



Average Rating: 5.3/10
Reviews Counted: 148
Fresh: 57 | Rotten: 91

The Eagle has a pleasantly traditional action-adventure appeal, but it's drowned out by Kevin Macdonald's stolid direction and Channing Tatum's uninspired work in the central role.


Average Rating: 5.4/10
Critic Reviews: 36
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 23

The Eagle has a pleasantly traditional action-adventure appeal, but it's drowned out by Kevin Macdonald's stolid direction and Channing Tatum's uninspired work in the central role.



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Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 41,897

My Rating

Movie Info

In 2nd-Century Britain, 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...The Roman epic adventure The Eagle is directed by Kevin Macdonald and produced by Duncan Kenworthy. Jeremy Brock has adapted the scr eenplay from Rosemary Sutcliff's classic novel The Eagle of the Ninth. In 140 AD, the Roman Empire extends all the way to


Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics

Jeremy Brock

Jun 21, 2011


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All Critics (148) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (57) | Rotten (91) | DVD (6)

Best of all is Anthony Dod Mantle's breathtaking photography: the Scottish Highlands have never looked so eerily, threateningly beautiful.

March 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The story sags in the middle, as our wanderers traipse through the highlands-not a happy environment for Tatum, who, before his journey even begins, looks all at sea in this distant age.

February 22, 2011 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Wild-eyed, long-haired Brits leap atop the Romans' shields as the soldiers blindly hack away, the bodies so close that you can barely tell the victor from the vanquished. The battles in the fog and rain have a hallucinatory power.

February 14, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

However you slice it, The Eagle is hokum, but modern-day Scots may get a kick out of the film's depiction of their ancestors as mud-caked hellions. Modern-day Romans will have to settle for less.

February 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor | Comment (1)
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The latest sandals-and-swords outing, "The Eagle" has landed . . . with a thud.

February 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's a predictable arc, as the two enemies have to overcome their mutual mistrust to survive.

February 11, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

like many modern war films, it gets too introspective on the horrors of war and the uncertain righteousness of any one side

September 4, 2013 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Despite its bleak atmosphere and sparse storyline, period drama The Eagle is a pleasant surprise. It entertains with some great sword play, and the themes of honor and bravery overcome the simplicity of the story.

July 24, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

It's a video game, after all: Dull sensation, easily recognizable and comforting images and a total lack of recollection of what it is you were just doing within seconds of it being over.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

Inferior to the similar, based-n-the-same-history "Centurion."

January 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Nation
Movie Nation

It really all comes down to the story. Just like Tatum wasn't up to the task of bringing the character to life, the filmmakers weren't up to the task of bringing the story to life, and that makes all the difference.

September 21, 2012 Full Review Source:

'The Eagle' will likely find a future life on the video shelves of high school history teachers looking for a semi-educational way to kill a couple of days worth of classes.

February 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinematical | Comment (1)

Fighting isn't big and it isn't clever. But, in the case of "The Eagle," it's the most interesting part of the movie.

December 13, 2011 Full Review Source: The Baltic Times

In the end The Eagle's flight is often striking, but a little erratic.

August 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Fan The Fire
Fan The Fire

Sadly not a movie about the big-chinned ski jumper Eddie Edwards, this underwhelming feature instead revolves around the 'Ted and Ralph' style bromance between a master and servant during the Roman occupation of England.

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Digital Spy
Digital Spy

...a distressingly uneven actioner that's rarely as entertaining as one might've hoped...

June 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

It's almost new and interesting, but mostly just hints at some intriguing ideas.

May 13, 2011 Full Review Source:

All the sturm and drang can't hide the obvious. "The Eagle" is "Gladiator" Lite, a low-budget costumer about honor and redemption ... handing your enemy his head on a shield.

May 5, 2011 Full Review Source: CinemaDope

It's a really earnest adventure set in the second century. And you know what that means. It means you have to tune your brain back to at least the 1950s.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source:

The Eagle appeals to my older self while retaining what made my childhood reading so stirring.

March 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

Based on the well-known novel 'The Eagle of the Ninth,' 'The Eagle' is a serviceable movie about the importance of honor and allegiance in ancient Rome.

March 25, 2011 Full Review Source: KWQC-TV (Iowa)
KWQC-TV (Iowa)

Early on it's established that Tatum has a body fat ratio lower than most people's mortgage rates, but his humourless hero is hardly dynamic.

March 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Scotsman

Tatum acquits himself admirably here, in a film that clearly intends to ensure Hollywood cheese is the last thing that comes to mind...

March 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

Macdonald captures the Highlands setting beautifully and the two leads make a likeable pairing.

March 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Sun Online
Sun Online

As culture clashes go, this one should be filed under rout.

March 25, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Take Braveheart, Gladiator and Apocalypto, leave them to simmer in an iron-age pot and you've got The Eagle, a sword-swooshing slice of historical action that's plenty entertaining, if a touch familiar.

March 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

Audience Reviews for The Eagle

A morally repellent movie that clearly supports imperialism (the emblem being an eagle and the Romans performed by American actors) and considers those who resist it as ruthless savages, which makes it unbelievable that Jamie Bell's character would help the invaders regain their "honor."
August 25, 2014

Super Reviewer

A Roman centurion injured in battle is honourably discharged and finds new purpose by seeking out the standard lost by his father's defeated legion twenty years earlier. The Eagle is another example of a Hollywood style period action movie with all the expected ingredients; anachronistic accents, toga clad veteran actors in cameo roles, brutal, gritty action scenes and tales of honour lost and regained through acts of bravery (and extreme violence of course). Channing Tatum is the square-jawed Yankee Doodle Roman who finds an ally in Briton Jamie Bell who inevitably owes him a debt of honour to help him and they go through the "all brave soldiers are brothers underneath" schtick of the modern war film. The early scenes are actually very nicely done with some well shot Celtic scenery and suitably bloody battle scenes but it unfortunately loses its way for the final act. Mark Strong's appearance is vaguely embarrassing as he affects a rather unconvincing American accent, which for a Roman centurion living in Scotland for 20 years, nearly 1500 years before America was discovered is quite a feat. It then all descends into the usual militaristic, rootin' tootin' flag-salutin' bullshit for the finale and our two heroes stride out of the Roman senate, macho quips at the ready like Starskila & Hutchus. Not completely dreadful but from the director of The Last King Of Scotland, I expected better.
March 3, 2013
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Well I'm loving all these historical films being made these days :) really interesting and gloriously epic and this film despite not being a huge Hollywood flick is really decent and worth the watch.
The plot revolving around the mystery of the Ninth Legion (Legio IX Hispana) has been passed around the history books for along time and no one really knows what happened to them but this film goes along with the safe bet that they were simply ambushed and beaten by local tribes (probably Picts) and all killed or executed.

Of course the film isn't totally accurate, the story that one Centurion (Aquila) goes behind enemy lines with a Briton slave to recapture the Eagle standard is pure fantasy, the way the film concludes is also pure fantasy and maybe should of ended in a more realistic fashion. Despite the obvious historical flaws, you can't blame the creators for alittle artistic license, this film is excellent fun and really well made from the costumes and tribal speech right to the fantastic location work.
The real Scottish Highlands and Glens are used for the backdrop in this film and boy does it work, some of the scenes look tremendous, really barren n bleak with rain n clouds aplenty, also the use of native tongue for all the tribal scenes really adds to the epic quality and realism although I'm unsure if they looked as they are portrayed. They do have a kind of Amazon rain forest type of look to them, think 'Apocalypto' or 'Last of the Mohican's' Huron look.
I'm also unsure if the local tongue used in the film is based on anything real, same with the 'Seal' tribe, never heard of them and its thought the Picts would of been the natives of the time.

Great fight sequences and a much more real feel to the film than the recent 'Centurion' which had a more blockbuster type urge to it. I'm unsure if anyone would really be that bothered about a flag standard that they would go through all that, not sure the Roman hierarchy would be bothered about it either as they would probably be more concerned about losing men and ground than the actual metal standard. Its all good and well acted from both the Roman front and Tribal front with Tatum and Bell looking quite similar to each other haha the tribal warriors of Caledonia also playing their parts really well.
May 2, 2012

Super Reviewer

I have to admit, I'm kind of a sucker for sword and sandal period type pieces, in spite of there being so few good ones. The Eagle starts earnestly enough, and for the first half is somewhat entertaining, giving at least a decent view into what military life must have been like for the legions stuck in Britain. But once the action moves above Hadrian's wall, the film devolves into a buddy film with no chemistry that includes some gaping inaccuracies, like portraying the highlanders as something very kin to 17th century American Indians.

The main flaw of the film however is that it hangs much of the characters motivations on the tired saw of "honor". The main character, Marcus, whose father was the leader of the famed 9th legion; a group who traveled about the wall, 5,000 strong, and were never heard from again, wants to restore the family name and honor by finding the legion's standard, the title of the film. OK, that works... then you have the Brit slave who is rescued from the death decreed in the gladiator pits because he refused to fight (he is given the old "thumbs down" by the rabble, only to be saved by Marcus who sees valor and bravery in his refusal to fight). The Brit later tells Marcus that he hates everything Marcus stands for, but since Marcus saved his life, will fight and die for him, figuring that he owes Marcus a debt of honor... well, kinda works, but weak.

There are some good battle scenes early on, and I though the earthen walls of the roman fortress to be passably accurate, and I liked the way the film made use of the famed roman "turtle" formation, which took good advantage of their tall shields.

But that's all in the first half of the film (which is only marred by a quirky, off the wall performance by Donald Sutherland as Marcus' uncle.

The second half has Marcus and his slave traveling in the woods and lochs of Scotland, infiltrating a band of "savages" who are believed to hold the Eagle. The film shoots for a tone of gravitas, but comes off as almost comic, with battles punctuated by sad overdubs and a truly weak morality play that looks almost Shakespearian when compared to the film's "well I guess I showed you" closing as Marcus returns the Eagle all the way to Rome (which, by the way, would have taken over a year back then). The final frames show Marcus and slave having a true buddy-buddy moment of bon homie, which was non evident in the remainder of the film. It just makes you wonder if they ran out of script, or if the script writer was abducted by aliens, or perhaps the studio just put pressure on him in the attempt to give the film an alleged wider viewing audience. Regardless, the effort failed and the film fell on its own sword.
January 29, 2012
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

    1. Aquila: Hold the circle!
    – Submitted by Zane M (2 years ago)
    1. Marcus Aquila: He's not a slave. And he knows more about honor and freedom than you'll ever know.
    – Submitted by rob g (3 years ago)
    1. Esca: I hate everything you stand for.
    – Submitted by rob g (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Adler der neunten Legion (DE)
  • L' Aigle de la Neuvičme Légion (FR)
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