By Jerry Casarez
In what has to be considered the first real action movie of the year “The Eagle” really delivers a bit of drama and plenty of adventure. It started Friday February 11th in theaters everywhere. The movie stars Channing Tatum, who is best remembered from his roles in “Fighting” and “Public Enemies,” but also co- stars Jamie Bell, who once played the lead character in “Billy Elliott,” and Hollywood great Donald Sutherland.
The film is set in Roman ruled Britain 140 AD. A young Centurion Marcus Aquilla(Tatum) has arrived 20 years after the unexplained disappearance of his father who is believed to have led the Ninth Legion into the mountains of Scotland from where they were never seen again.
With the loss of 5000 men and the tainted memory of his father’s legacy, it is young Marcus who feels compelled that the only way to restore honor to his family name and Rome is by returning the lost Eagle emblem.
Set on his journey, Marcus is accompanied only by Esca (Bell,) his British slave. Though he is strongly advised by his uncle (Sutherland) that he should not take a drastic voyage which is surely to result in his death, Marcus chooses otherwise by not “rotting and remembering,” which is intended as an insult to his uncle.
The movie has great dialogue and points to multiple stories and subplots. The story starts with the tale of a young Roman soldier trying to close the door on what is believed to be shame brought forth by the disappearance of his father and the missing emblem.
But what is found to be even more compelling is the relationship of slave Esca and master Aquilla. Esca swears that he will be loyal to his master, who has sparred his life, which seems logical to say while behind Roman walls but soon the roles will be reversed as they enter into unknown lands of Northern Britain where Romans are considered the enemy.
While Esca despises everything that the Romans have done to his people in the past, the promise of trust to his master is tested upon return to the comfort of familiar land and people. Shame is bestowed upon each character at various points of the journey. At the pinnacle of the action, Esca is in the tough predicament of continuing with his life of freedom, even if it is at the expense of Aquilla’s life.
Directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald of “The last King of Scotland,” the movie is based on the novel “The Eagle of the Ninth”. With its share of valor, friendship and morals questioned, the film should be enjoyed by all. The story is well told without giving away too much plot at any point. The costumes and cinematography make it very realistic with the exception of the spoken English by the Romans which is not too bad considering the alternative would be for them to speak in Latin and the film to be sub-titled overall. It could be enjoyed by fans of any genre looking for a good movie.