In 120 A.D., a legion of 5,000 Roman soldiers marched through North Britain trying to conquer native tribes. Somewhere between their raping and pillaging, they were ambushed and not a single one of them was heard from again. Even though the title cards claim that not a single legionnaire was heard from again, Rome some how found out that they lost thousands of men and the golden staff-mounted eagle that the legion bore. With Rome’s tail between its legs, the Roman army was commanded to build a massive wall (Hadrian’s Wall), separating their already-conquered southern region from the savage natives in north.
Now 20 years later, Roman commander Marcus (Channing Tatum, Dear John), son of the fallen leader of said legion, sets off on a rogue mission north of the wall to recover the eagle and regain his family’s honor. As a guide and speaker of the native tongue, Marcus brings his not-so-trusty slave Esca (Jamie Bell, Jumper). Their journey is not so much filled with twists and turns as meandering and chance encounters.
The original trailer for The Eagle shows up to a certain point where Esca turns on Marcus, reversing the roles and making Marcus a slave. I believed that point would occur shortly into the movie with surprises to follow. I was wrong. Esca turn approximately 70 minutes into the movie. I was okay with that until I saw the currently-running television spots which now reveal everything else that occurs after that point.
Because of the over-informative spots, you now know exactly where The Eagle is going (as if you could not have guessed from its unoriginal story before). There isn’t a single thing left up to the imagine or any surprises. It simply follows the average story and doesn’t do anything original, cruising right along with par. The story is par. The action is par. The ending is par. And the acting is definitely par.
Channing Tatum can lead a movie about as well as I can make one. After being the best thing about The Dilemma, I had hoped that Tatum would again surprise me here, but he didn’t. And let’s face it, Jamie Bell can only play one note – the pent-up angry little man. It works well for him since that is all he gets cast, but I am tired of seeing it. Mark Strong is a fantastic actor, but jeez – does that guy turn any roles down? He is in everything – good or bad.
Aaron and I both agree that had The Eagle actually taken a cue from Scrubs and had Channing Tatum hop on Jamie Bell’s back and yell, “Eagle!” it may have earned an above par rating, but it didn’t. It stuck to the bland and uneventful instead.
Photo credit: Focus Features