Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 73 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: In 140 AD, two men - master and slave - venture beyond the edge of the known world on a dangerous and obsessive quest that will push them beyond the boundaries of loyalty and betrayal, friendship and hatred, deceit and heroism. 20 years earlier, Rome's 5,000-strong Ninth Legion, under the command of Flavius Aquila, marched north carrying their treasured golden Eagle emblem. They never returned; Legion and Eagle simply vanished into the mists. Hearing a rumor that the Eagle has been seen in a tribal temple in the far north, Flavius' son Marcus, determined to restore the tarnished reputation of his father, is galvanized into action. Accompanied only by his slave Esca, Marcus sets out into the vast and dangerous highlands of Scotland - to confront its savage tribes, make peace with his father's memory, and retrieve the hallowed Eagle. Along the way Marcus realizes that the mystery of his father's disappearance may well be linked to the secret of his own slave's identity and loyalty - a secret all the more pressing when the two come face-to-face with the warriors of the fearsome Seal Prince. (Focus Features)

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 35
  2. Negative: 3 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Feb 9, 2011
    The story and setting may be ancient, but under the direction of Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), and with a nicely textured screenplay by Macdonald's Scotland coscreenwriter Jeremy Brock, the vigor is fully modern.
  2. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Feb 10, 2011
    An honest, basic story set forth with brevity, skill, care and intelligence.
  3. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Feb 7, 2011
    While the movie doesn't wholly succeed, there's enough to like here -- including Channing Tatum's credible performance as a tradition-bound Roman soldier.
  4. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Feb 10, 2011
    A mildly engaging and roughly historical action picture.
  5. 50
    They're not much company, our Marcus and Esca. But there we are, mucking through crazy Scotland with them.
  6. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Feb 10, 2011
    Lumbering along for a bit less than two hours, which passes like three, it feels more like a chore than like an adventure.
  7. Reviewed by: Scott Bowles
    Feb 10, 2011
    What it became was bad. A movie that hopes to blend "Lethal Weapon" with "Gladiator" winds up not being a fraction of either.

See all 35 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 25
  2. Negative: 2 out of 25
  1. Apr 17, 2011
    With morals and plot devices that have been sadly lacking in cinema for the past ten years, The Eagle is a true epic.
    The movie takes place
    about ten years after the (real) event titled the "Lost Legion," where an entire legion of Roman troops in the post-Christianity era (117 AD) "vanished" after marching into unfriendly terrain in Northern England. Marcus Alquilas (now we are talking fiction) is the son of the Roman general who commanded the legion at the time of their demise(?); and he is distraught over the loss of his father, respect for his family, and the honor of Rome. Brave and intelligent (if nearly-mad with his obsession), Alquilas rises through the military ranks and is offered a variety of posts throughout the empire--not surprisingly, he chooses the northernmost fort to Hadrian's Wall, a barrier built to block off the upper half of England after the events of his father's command. After an injury, Alquilas needs an aid for recovering. His kindly uncle then gives him Esca, a slave Alquilas rescued from a lopsided gladiatorial combat. Recovering, Alquilas decides he will depart to the uncharted area on the other side of the wall. With Esca as his guide, Alquilas steadfastly pursues his goal of finding the Eagle of the Ninth, a treasured golden standard of the Lost Legion shaped like a chicken. No, actually it looks like an eagle.
    While I understand Focus Features' reasoning, it is sad that a movie with this merit and talent behind it got released with little fanfare in a time of year not associated with great films. No one who watched the trailer would know this is from Jeremy Brock and Kevin Macdonald, the writer-director team behind Oscar-nominee The Last King of Scotland. The book it is based on (Rosemary Suttcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth) is considered critically acclaimed classic. Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe, Dear John), a very underrated actor, plays Marcus, while BAFTA nominee Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Hallam Foe) plays Esca. Also worth noting is that The Eagle''s cinematographer is Anthony Dod Mantle, who did the Oscar-winning work on Slumdog Millionaire.
    All the talent comes to good use. The movie is surprisingly old-fashioned--promoting honor and nationalism over liberty and personal-gain. It also deals with many dark issues without becoming unnecessarily grim. This is probably much due to the fact that the book is from the 50s; it is still impressive, though, that a 2011 film about ancient Rome managed not to be anarchistic. Even better, the movie has powerful morals which (while probably not discussable in a spoiler-free review) definitely make this better than most Academy Award-nominees.
    The movie's action scenes are slightly disjointed, probably due to the fact that the movie seems to really not want its PG-13 rating. Still, there are so many fight sequences (the movie keeps away from any tacked-on romantic subplots) I am sure that the action crowd will be pleased if they attend. Best of all, though, is the fact that this is not mere popcorn-fare: The Eagle is a moving epic in the vein of Ben Hur.
    Powerful morals, an exciting plot, and a well-crafted story make this cinematic experience exceptional.
  2. Feb 18, 2011
    This film is about what symbols mean to soldiers. They mean more to them than civilians will ever know. The eagle is a film that shows this brilliantly. It is well film and surprisingly well acted. Be warned however, this is by far the bloodiest pg-13 film I have ever seen. The ending kinda was cliche, but the screen with Channing Tatum holds up the eagle before a "last stand" battle is incredibly moving. Well worth a rental or trip to the movie theater! Expand
  3. Sep 28, 2011
    Great film where Jamie Bell once again proves himself as one of the World's most underrated actors. The film is there between Gladiator and things like Troy. Far better than Troy, Alexander etc with greater emotional ties to the characters and a more engaging story. Not as powerful or profound as Gladiator however. Went into the film with little expectations and was pleasantly surprised. The cinematography and scenic sets are breathtaking alone in High Def.

    Thoroughly enjoyable and watchable numerous times. This film Soars like the bird of prey it name-checks!
  4. Jul 8, 2011
    Hadn't it been for the plot, scenery and tremendously Jamie Bell, this movie would have been a disaster. The lead guy was just awful to watch, so unconvincing, so general. Jamie Bell did a much better role, although he didn't receive the spotlight. Expand
  5. Feb 23, 2011
    I'll simply say that Shiira's review (below) is awesome. Long-time user reviewer on the site - excellent work. I enjoyed the movie, but scoring it is tough. It seemed to have some pacing problems, but the tone and feel of the movie were pitch-perfect. Tatum was born to play the role, and Jamie Bell is perfect as the slave-turned-friend. I don't think I'd easily recommend this film to friends, but I enjoyed it. Expand
  6. Dec 15, 2013
    Despite its potential, "The Eagle" adheres too closely to formula and is driven by stunted dialogue with sparse action scenes that do little to keep it interesting as well as a cast that aren't up to the material. It's the type of film that may have thrived in the '90s and been nominated for lots of awards, but instead ends up being one that may finally retire an overused genre. Expand
  7. Jan 18, 2013
    Messy plot + pointless cause=Horrible Movie. The Eagle + good writing=what the f*ck are you thinking. One of the worst films ever.

See all 25 User Reviews