The Eagle


The Eagle

Critics Consensus

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.



Reviews Counted: 155

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Average Rating: 3.1/5

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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 Britain - though its grasp is incomplete, as the rebellious tribes of Caledonia (today's Scotland) hold sway in the far North. Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) arrives in Britain, determined to restore the tarnished reputation of his father, Flavius Aquila. It was 20 years earlier that Rome's 5,000-strong Ninth Legion, under the command of Flavius and carrying their golden emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth, marched north into Caledonia. They never returned; Legion and Eagle simply vanished into the mists. Angered, the Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered the building of a wall to seal off the territory; Hadrian's Wall became the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire - the edge of the known world. Driven to become a brilliant soldier and now given command of a small fort in the southwest, Marcus bravely leads his troops during a siege. Commended by Rome for his bravery, yet discharged from the army because of his severe wounds, Marcus convalesces, demoralized, in the villa of his Uncle Aquila (Donald Sutherland), a retired army man. When Marcus impulsively gets a young Briton's life spared at a gladiatorial contest, Aquila buys the Briton, Esca (Jamie Bell), to be Marcus' slave. Marcus is dismissive of Esca, who harbors a seething hatred of all things Roman. Yet Esca vows to serve the man who has saved his life. Hearing a rumor that the Eagle has been seen in a tribal temple in the far north, Marcus is galvanized into action, and sets off with Esca across Hadrian's Wall. But the highlands of Caledonia are a vast and savage wilderness, and Marcus must rely on his slave to navigate the region. When they encounter ex-Roman soldier Guern (Mark Strong), 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). A Focus Features presentation in association with Film4 of a Duncan Kenworthy production. Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell. The Eagle. Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong. Casting by Jina Jay. Music by Atli Örvarsson. Costumes by Michael O'Connor. Editor, Justine Wright. Production Designer, Michael Carlin. Director of Photography, Anthony Dod Mantle, BSC, DFF. Co-Producer, Caroline Hewitt. Executive Producers, Tessa Ross, Miles Ketley, Charles Moore. Based on the novel The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. Screenplay by Jeremy Brock. Produced by Duncan Kenworthy. Directed by Kevin Macdonald. A Focus Features Release.-- (C) Focus Features

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Channing Tatum
as Marcus Aquila
Tahar Rahim
as Seal Prince
Donald Sutherland
as Uncle Aquila
Bence Gerö
as Celt Boy/Young Marcus
Denis O'Hare
as Lutorius
Aladár Laklóth
as Flavius Aquila
Istvan Goz
as Cohort Centurion
Marcell Miklós
as Fort Legionary 1
Bálint Magyar
as Fort Legionary 2
Ferenc Pataki
as Fort Legionary 3
Bálint Antal
as Young Legionary
James Hayes
as Stephanos
András Faragó
as Captain of the Gladiators
Pip Carter
as Placidus
Ben O'Brien
as Milecastle Guard
Róbert Bánlaki
as Young Rogue Warrior
Brian Gleeson
as Traveller 1
Jon Campling
as Traveller 2
Thomas Henry
as Seal Boy
Ned Dennehy
as Seal Chief/The Horned One
Ralph Aiken
as Patrician 1
Granville Saxton
as Patrician 2
Walter Van Dyke
as Patrician 3
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News & Interviews for The Eagle

Critic Reviews for The Eagle

All Critics (155) | Top Critics (39)

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."

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

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.

xGary Xx
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.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

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.

paul sandberg
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

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