The Eagle was the choice of the person I was at Cineworld with, not mine, but sometimes you find an unexpected gem that way. That’s what this was; not a classic nor even a favourite but a really good, well-made, enjoyable film.
Directed by Kevin Macdonald, it stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, and Donald Sutherland. It was dapted by Jeremy Brock from Rosemary Sutcliff‘s historical adventure novel The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), and tells the story of a young Roman officer searching to recover the lost Roman eagle standard of his father’s legion which disappeared in the northern part of Britain.
Maybe it’s because it was adapted from a novel from the 50s that it has such a strong, almost old fashioned story. I liked the unfancy way it was directed which gave it an effectively eerie atmosphere. Jamie Bell had the best presence on screen. Donald Sutherland was good, as always. Channing Tatum as Marcus was a bit like a block of wood (why do they always choose furniture to play American male leads?) but not on the scale of Mark Wahlberg or Keanu Reeves. Also there was a couple of jabs at the downside of imperialism; always love a couple of jabs at the downside of imperialism, me.
I hadn’t expected to like The Eagle because I had thought it was a Gladiator type movie and I HATED Gladiator. I was braced for endless battle scenes involving characters I couldn’t give a stuff about. There was plenty of bloody fighting but I did actually care about these characters so it was actually engaging to watch. The whole thing was like a sturdy but reliable car. It didn’t hold many surprises and wouldn’t come top of the list of many people’s favourites but it took me where I wanted to go and did it with a certain amount of style.