Contributed By Yong Yung Shin
Adapted from the historical adventure novel, The Eagle Of The Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, The Eagle is set in 140 AD, when the Roman Empire extended all the way to Britain. It tells of a young Roman soldier, Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum), who embarks on a perilous quest to restore his late father’s name by recovering his eagle emblem, long lost in the Ninth Spanish Legion’s unresolved disappearance in Britain. Aquila is accompanied solely by his British slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), whose life he saved during a gladiatorial show.
Aquila’s uncle (Donald Sutherland) frowns upon his nephew’s decision to venture into dangerous territory with his slave, whose allegiance he deems to be treacherous. But Aquila stands by Esca—moral of the story: If you deem a person’s life as worthy to be saved, it pays to give him the benefit of doubt.
For those who are not history buffs, the first half of the movie, which sets the stage for the journey, will not really draw you in; the action picks up much later on. The screenplay seems to set Esca’s servitude to his master as the fulcrum of the story even as Aquila learns to let go of his pride and trust his own judgment. This plays out most starkly in one particularly nail-biting scene when the pair gets cornered by the fearsome Seal People.
As an “epic film,” though, this comes nowhere close to the likes of Braveheart—somehow a story about a man risking not just his own life and limb but that of others in pursuit of an eagle sculpture (never mind that it is supposed to symbolize the dignity and freedom of a nation) doesn’t make for a very convincing nor compelling story.