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Eagle, The


Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong

Director: Kevin Macdonald

You may wince at the thought of the very American Tatum as a Roman general. However, lots of effort has gone into this Roman western and it's mostly pretty good, apart from lapses in the dialogue towards the end.

Marcus Flavius Aquila (the latter is the Latin for eagle, in case you don't get it) is, in 140AD, the son of a Roman commander who, 20 years before in Britain, disappeared with his entire legion (and its golden eagle standard) while on an expedition to uncharted Scotland.

Now his son, himself in command of a Roman fortress in southern Britain, is determined to clear his father's name and reclaim the eagle. Distinguishing himself in battle but badly wounded, Marcus is invalided out of the army and, saving the life of a British slave (Bell), takes him on an expedition to darkest Scotland to find the eagle.

Captured there by woad-covered warriors, it seems that positions of master and slave may have been reversed.

The film is carefully made and has lots of good cinematography, especially in the Highlands, by Anthony Dod Mantle. But there are also rather too many dull bits, some over-frenzied editing of battle scenes, and an uncharacteristically poor turn by Strong as a lost legionnaire. A good try, though, with a faultless performance from Bell as the slave.

David Quinlan

USA/UK/Hungary 2010. UK Distributor: Universal (Focus). Colour by deluxe.
112 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 22 Mar 2011