DIRECTOR: Kevin Macdonald
Will we be adding this to our collection? Maybe
Based on the 1954 adventure novel by Rosemary Sutcliff, The Eagle Of The Ninth, which was later shortened to just, The Eagle prior to release, was a disappointment. I wasn’t expecting a game changer, but I was hoping for a solid story, some points of historical interest and hopefully some form of emotional commitment from its two leads, Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell.
What we got was Tatum doing a “Serious” role, but having no clue how to perform it, and Bell trying as hard as he could to run away from Billy Elliot. Channing Tatum is a heart-throb and I get it, but there’s little evidence that he’s capable of much more, but Bell CAN act, but seemed to spend the entire film being a very dull version of the strong silent type.
The story is simple; 2 years earlier Tatum’s, Marcus Aquila’s father had led the Ninth Spanish Legion into what is now Scotland, where it was never heard from again. Their standard, the eponymous golden eagle was lost along with them. Marcus decides to restore his family’s honour by taking his slave, Esca, Bell, and venturing to retrieve it.
The cinematography was good, with Scotland looking as beautiful as ever, but the direction was nothing more than average on the whole, never quite striking the correct balance between music and just sound, action and walking. I mean, the fight scenes were action packed and for brief moments elevated the film, but on the whole, everything was work a day and brought nothing new to the genre.
But primarily, this film should have offered two things. For one, if should have shone a light on an area often overlooked in Roman films, which is the conquest of Britain, and the people’s who occupied it at that time. This did it somewhat adequately but I felt wanting for more.
The second was that is should have been a buddy styled adventure. That’s not to say that it should have been light and fluffy but we should have bonded with the two leads and watched their relationship evolve from master/slave to two friends and comrades.
This didn’t happen, as the pair hardly seemed to speak to each other at all, but at the end we are supposed to believe that they have grown in this way? Just because we’re literally told? I don’t think so.
Ultimately, I was bored by the plodding direction and poor narrative that promised so much but delivered nothing more than a scatty mosaic of events, skirmishes and fragments of life in 120BC. Watchable but unremarkable.