Sheri Linden reviews the Channing Tatum vehicle “The Eagle,” seeing highs and lows in the episodic quest:
It’s jarring, at first, to hear Romans speak with American accents in “The Eagle.” But that sly twist on sword-and-sandals convention makes perfect sense, lending a 21st century perspective on empire to this 2nd century drama. If only more of the film felt as fresh.
Director Kevin Macdonald, who has explored extreme personalities in such memorable work as “One Day in September,” “Touching the Void” and “The Last King of Scotland,” hews so faithfully to genre storytelling in his new feature that it often feels like a missed opportunity. The script by Jeremy Brock, based on “The Eagle of the Ninth,” a 1954 young-adult novel by Rosemary Sutcliff, plays it straight down the middle, neither pushing its contemporary vantage point nor embracing the chance for B-movie glory.
The few bashful winks belong to Donald Sutherland’s brief scenes and the closing moment. Otherwise, the historical saga rolls out an earnest, by-the-numbers narrative about honor and, of course, fathers and sons — women are relegated to the background — but with a strong sense of place that’s unusual for such swashbucklers…
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– Sheri Linden
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