The Eagle Directed by: Kevin Macdonald Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland Running Time: 1 hr 53 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: February 11, 2011
PLOT: Britain is ruled by Romans, but now a young Roman soldier (Tatum) will travel north with his slave (Bell) to try and honor his father's memory by finding the lost golden eagle.
WHO'S IT FOR? Do you feel like it's time for another Braveheart or Gladiator? First, lower your expectations, those were great movies. Now, you should be ready to enjoy The Eagle.
EXPECTATIONS: Clearly Focus Features doesn't expect huge business for The Eagle. After all, Valentine's Day weekend doesn't exactly mean gladiator flick. So far, Tatum hasn't turning me off yet even though his films haven't been great.
ACTORS: Channing Tatum as Marcus Aquila: I feel like Tatum = soldier. They are almost one in the same. Name a Tatum movie and he's been a soldier. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Dear John, Stop Loss ... he's always a soldier. So it makes perfect sense that he's a soldier here as well ... wait, this takes place in 120 A.D... Hmmm, does he have to talk with an accent? Nope. Perfect, then Tatum is ready to roll! Marcus is all about honor. It makes sense and feels right for this guy. Plus, he's absolutely obsessed with restoring his father's honor, which is a nice added layer. This is Tatum's best work. He even shows a little range when it gets a little misty for him. Score: 8
Jamie Bell as Esca: It's tough to say I know exactly what Esca stands for, but it seems he likes honor as well, no matter who has it. For most of the film, Esca is Marcus' slave, and it would seem there is no place he would rather be. There is plenty of room to insert Brokeback Mountain jokes with some of the moments Esca and Marcus share. That doesn't mean they're not a good pair to watch and root for. Bell looks to have gotten in shape for the role and he even makes a play for the "Hollywood Running Hall of Fame" with Tom Cruise and Matt Damon as co-captains. Score: 6
Donald Sutherland as Uncle Aquila: During one of the stretches that almost seems like it could have been cut from the movie, Marcus is on the long road to recovery. Uncle Aquila is taking care of him. Almost like The Mechanic, it's just good to see Sutherland on the big screen, even if he's not doing much. He's at his best when talking about medicine smelling like a fart. Yes, that's the best we're getting here. Score: 6
TALKING: There is a lot of talk about honor, purpose and never backing down. So if you don't have a spine or integrity you really aren't going to like this film. The good guys and bad guys aren't necessarily painted in black and white, well ... OK, one technically is painted, but I was simply trying to use the saying. There are a few moments when the dialogue is really strained and falls flat with lines like, "A slave versus a gladiator is never a fair fight, never." Score: 5
SIGHTS: The Eagle puts you there. It takes time, some will probably say too much time, with moments like building a fort, or repairing a hurt leg. I'm always a sucker for how the world once worked and it seems like The Eagle did its research. Score: 7
SOUNDS: It's kind of like monk music. There's some chanting along with the rhythms. Sometimes this fits right in, other times it overtakes the moments on the screen. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: Marcus leads some men out of the fort to rescue other soldiers. It looked like the odds were stacked against him, but it showcases Roman soldiers working as a team.
ENDING: Um, is this a buddy flick? Is there going to be a sequel? The ending seemed a little false and they probably should have stopped before it got back to the politicians. Also, doesn't it feel like they are saying Roman rule is "right" with this ending?
QUESTIONS: If you are Esca, and you have a chance to be free, why don't you take it? I understand respecting a man's honor but that doesn't mean you should be with him under any circumstance.
REWATCHABILITY: I think the pacing is a little slow for a second viewing. I wouldn't want to risk it. I'm feeling good about my time with The Eagle and we'll leave it at that.
It's kind of like this ... "Hey, they stole my family's bat!" Don't you think that guy should get his bat back? By the way, it was his dad's bat AND it was signed by Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks. Yup, you're pretty upset about the people who took the bat right? Well, there's more to this tale. The dad used the bat for clubbing people to death and taking over their land. Now do you want to give the bat back?
Sure, some of you are worried that I have lost my mind and I'm spinning tales that make no sense. But with The Eagle, the bat is the eagle and the eagle is the bat. It's a symbol. For Marcus, it's a symbol of the pride his family should have and the country he holds dear, and it's his job to get it back. For others, it's a symbol of holding onto their land when warriors attack. The shades of grey are there and never hit us over the head (except maybe a little with that ending).
After watching Robin Hood and Season of the Witch I realized I was ready to enjoy a knight's tale. While this movie isn't going to rival the greats (like Braveheart) is does satisfy my appetite and gives us the best Channing Tatum can offer.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10