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The Eagle is a champion

March 31st, 2011  |  Published in New Reels

Journey north of the border with Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell in the thrilling Roman adventure The Eagle.

I was excited about seeing the latest film from Kevin Macdonald, who’s one of my favourite directors – One Day in September is right up there with When We Were Kings as the best documentary ever and his first foray into non-documentary movie-making, The Last King of Scotland was totally stellar too – and The Eagle didn’t disappoint. Set in the Roman-occupied Britain of 140 AD, it tells of the quest to restore honour to a family by finding the elusive eagle standard of the title. I haven’t read Rosemary Sutcliff’s book The Eagle of the Ninth but now I want to, as this was an absolutely thrilling, brilliant way to spend 2 hours.

The Eagle_our heroesBefore you even get to the central pairing of Channing Tatum (like a gentle and determined piece of rough-hewn granite) as young Roman solider Marcus Flavius Aquila and Jamie Bell (still lean with that great singular focus) as British¬†slave Esca with whom Marcus enters into an unlikely alliance – you have the not inconsiderable talents of Donald Sutherland (if you had to pick someone to be your old long lost uncle, wouldn’t he be at the top of the list?), Mark Strong (brilliant in anything he does), Denis O’Hare (one of the very best character actors around) and Tahar Rahim (almost unrecognisable from his extraordinary performance in A Prophet except for the piercing stare).

It’s all beautifully shot by Oscar winner Anthony Dod Mantle – wonderful shadows of light on people’s faces – and superbly visualised by Kevin Macdonald. “The eagle is not a piece of metal. The eagle is Rome.” says Marcus and Macdonald brings the same urgency to this tale as he did to his previous recreations of real life events. Fact or fiction, the man knows how to tell a thrilling story.¬†Strap on your best armour and march to see it!

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