March 17, 2011
"The Eagle" brings us back to the time when Rome ruled the world and Britain was a barbaric wasteland. Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) is a Roman centurion who has been given his first troop of soldiers to lead. He has a mission to salvage the name of their family because 20 years before, his father disappeared with 5,000 men battling tribes in Northern Britain and lost their cherished emblem, a golden Eagle.
While Marcus gains honor for his valor during his first battle in Southern Britain, he also gets severely injured. To his dismay, he was honorably discharged from the Roman army. Thus with the help of his Briton slave Esca (Jamie Bell), Marcus goes out to retrieve the Eagle by his own efforts. The relationship of master and servant is tested as they reach the territory of the savage Seal People beyond Hadrian's Wall, who were in possession of the precious family emblem.
While I was expecting a historical account, this film is of a more personal story. It centers on the friendship and loyalty of Marcus and Esca. The fight scenes were as violent as can be expected as these were savagely violent times. The camera shots though were close up and tight, so all you see are blurred images of battle, with nary any significant gore. There were scenes involving violence with children which can be disturbing. While Channing Tatum certainly shows more acting range here than he did in "Step Up" or "GI Joe", Jamie Bell manages to do more with his more complex role. Overall, the film was OK, but the story was shallower than I expected.
Do try to get a copy where there are subtitles during the Gaelic dialogs while Marcus and Esca are in the company of the Seal People. In the movie house where I watched, they had no subtitles so I was only guessing at what the characters were saying. Turned out there were many small details I missed that would have given more light as to the true character of the Seal People.