The Eagle (Kevin MacDonald) 2011

The Eagle is about a young Roman soldier named Marcus (Channing Tatum).  Marcus‘ father lost a coveted battle standard which is the titular eagle in an expedition into northern Britain.  Marcus decides the best way to get the Eagle back and restore his family name is to go in with only his slave Esca (Jamie Bell) to guide him.  The reasoning is two men can hide more effectively than an a large number of soldiers.  Esca, is of the same tribe as the one that slaughtered the eagles‘ company.  The main question is how much can Marcus trust Esca?

The main focus of this movie is the relationship between Marcus and Esca.  Marcus obviously has to have some reason to allow this slave who could betray Marcus at any time to lead him deep into enemy terrirtory.  And Esca also has to have to have some reason in order to help someone who is his mortal enemy.  I heard someone else mention it in another review but I think it is somewhat apt.  Think of this as a movie about a Taliban terrorist helping an American soldier.  Marcus represents everything Esca has grown to hate about the Romans and has spent his whole life fighting them. The movie should give me some good reason why this unlikely pairing gets along well at all but we don’t.  We don’t get a feeling that these two people really grow as friends.  Nor do we get a feeling that either side learns anything about the other.  You would think during the course of this adventure, Marcus would learn about how hard Esca had it as a slave and being persecuted by the Romans or that Esca could understand Marcus‘ position about honor and duty.  I got no impression of that either.  It just seems like they always mutually respected one another and went along together just cause the script needed them too.  Which, keep in mind again that this is one of the main parts of the narrative.  So when it seems like they don’t do anything to develop it, we care less about the characters and what they are trying to do.  It even makes the story borderline unbelievable as Esca goes on to betray the people he has always identified with for no good reason.

The rest of the movie is very straight forward; Marcus has to go to point A and retrieve plot device B.  There are no real twists or challenges along the way.  Which, I’m not saying there necessarily has to be.  But when you make a movie that is very basic, there has to be something special to make it stand out amongst all the competition.  In this case, I didn’t feel that way.  Everything was done competently, but nothing at all stood out as being all that good.  Even the ending left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as the writers tried too hard to wrap everything up in a pretty bow.  It didn’t feel like it developed naturally during the course of the film and just felt wrong.

The main actors of this movie are Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell.  Jamie Bell, pretty much as usual, gives a good performance.  What I will more focus on is the casting of Channing Tatum.  Channing usually plays an inner city tough who speaks in slang.  So it is, shall we say, questionable when he is cast as a Roman trying for a Brit accent.  It’s kind of like if you cast Eminem in this role.  Now Channing does have the look of an action star and he doesn’t do a terrible job, but he is not exactly compelling either.

Director MacDonald does a good job in trying to pull this movie out of mediocrity.  The locations, sets, and the music are all done well considering this is a rather small budget release.  The action is also alright with the exception of the director’s odd aversion to blood.  Again, I’m not saying this movie has to be gory, but MacDonald seemingly goes in the opposite direction and does so much to cut away from any kind of blood it feels like he is trying to make the only G rated action movie.  I’ve never seen someone work so hard to hide so much blood.

In the end, The Eagle is another bland summer actioner.  Even the title crys out as to how bland and unassuming it is.  While there is nothing that is horribly wrong or offensive, there is nothing to make it stand out amongst all the other movies out there.  If you were to catch it on TV, I thnk you would think it is an okay movie, but I don’t think there is anything for me to recommend that you go out and watch it.

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One Response to “The Eagle (Kevin MacDonald) 2011”

  1. You could probably fix Bell’s character motivation just by making the two leads gay…

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