I was in the mood for a guilty pleasure and The Eagle is just that. I must admit that I liked it far better than I expected. I even liked it quite a bit. It’s not historically accurate and you have to oversee the way “the barbarians” are depicted, the good versus evil vibe is quite heavy-handed but still, I enjoyed it for various reasons.
First of all The Eagle is visually compelling. The images are beautiful and I liked the atmosphere they created a lot. The other reason why I liked the movie was the main character, Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum). Tatum isn’t a very good actor but he does well when he has to play an introverted, wounded man.
In 120 A.D. Flavius Aquila, Marcus Flavius Aquila’s father, led the 9th Legion, 5000 Roman elite soldiers, far into Britannia, beyond the border of the Roman Empire. The Legion never returned and the emblem, the eagle, was stolen.
20 years later Marcus Flavius Aquila is sent to Britannia as Centurion of the remotest outpost near Hadrian’s wall. The soldiers under his command are not very keen on a man whose father disappeared. They think he means trouble but he is doing surprisingly well. We are introduced to a deeply religious man who is a very skilled and courageous soldier and a just commander. Unfortunately he’s gravely wounded in his first battle and sent to his uncle (Donald Sutherland) to recover. He gets an honorable discharge as his wound will not allow him to return to the life of a soldier. This is hard for him as being a soldier is all he knows and on top of that his secret hope was to restore his father’s honour.
When he watches some games with his uncle and sees a slave losing a fight against a gladiator he saves the slave’s life. While Esca, the slave, hates everything Marcus represents he still swears to be loyal. Marcus sees an opportunity to go beyond the wall, guided by someone who comes from there and speaks the language. He hopes to find out what happened to his father and maybe bring back the eagle.
Their quest is taking them far into enemy territory. The task is as difficult as it is dangerous.
A lot has been said about the bromance element in this movie. I’ve never really understood that term anyway. For me this was the story of an adventure and how two unlikely men become close friends. Call it “bromance” if you must.
As I said already, I liked this quite a bit. I thought it was well filmed and suspenseful. I spent two pleasant hours with this movie and wouldn’t mind watching it again. It’s not as good as Gladiator or King Arthur but personally I liked it better than Centurion and much much better than The Last Legion which is really not good. Watch it if you like movies set during the Roman Empire.
If you want to watch more movies set during the Roman Empire here’s my list: War Movies Set During the Roman Empire.