February 11, 2011

The Eagle

This Channing Tatum creature you speak of
is very crude...yet very hunky

Grade: C –

Director: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Elliott and Donald Sutherland
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr 54 min

Ah, it was the year 140 A.D. – a heady time when Romans spoke with American accents and savage Britons garbled a mix of Gaelic, and, I dunno, Esperanto? And, the only way to tell friend from foe was whether they wore powder blue war paint (bad) or washed it off and looked like Jamie Elliott (good).

The Eagle is theoretically adapted from Rose 1954 historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth. That technical attribution is the only historical aspect of this sword-and-sandals costume party.

Recovering from battle injures, Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum, always better seen than heard). a young Roman centurion, hops Hadrian’s Wall with his body slave, Esca (Bell), and braves the wilds of Caledonia to recover his lost father’s eagle standard and thereby restore his family’s honor.

Director Kevin Macdonald and writer James Brock – who once managed to make “The Last King of Scotland” – puts the audience through the paces of woeful dialogue, lazily edited battle scenes, and plot holes the size of Loch Ness. And Donald Sutherland looks as though he just rolled out of bed to sleepwalk his way through the role of Marcus' rehab nurse.

The exasperating capper, however, is the contemporary symbolism of an expansionist empire – with soldiers played by American actors – meeting its match in a distant land at the hands of indigenous natives. I couldn’t decide whether I was supposed to be seeing Iraq or Pandora, but either way, it still felt so last decade.

Neil Morris

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