Director: (Oscar winning) Kevin MacDonald
As a faithful viewer of Scrubs, even the later years, when I hear the word “eagle” I hear Zach Braff. So for 2 hours I had this in my head:
Sorry, had to get that out of my system.
The Eagle features Channing Tatum as a centurion. Let me say that again. Channing Tatum as a centurion. Still better than Conan. In fact I think I’m going to coin a new phrase that fits this movie. Instead of saying, “Could have been worse” we can start saying, “Could have been Conan.” This movie could have been Conan but then again it could have been better. The plot can be summed up as such: Tatum is on a quest to bring back Rome's honor in the form of a gold eeeeeeeagle.
Mostly the movie was fine. They balanced cheesy dialog with some authenticity of the time. The Druids were overly dramatic but the Seal people were cool looking. At least I think it was pretty authentic. I will say that the movie has encouraged me to do some learnin’. That doesn’t happen too often. But the learnin’ is mostly to see if it was accurate. Did those Seal people really looked as much like Native Americans as they did in this movie?
The movie was shot pretty well. The large establishing shot were gorgeous but the tighter shot fight scenes were a bit too shaky. Ahhh, the cinematographer has an Oscar of his own for Slumdog Millionaire. Also, kudos to the location people for finding absolutely gorgeous spots in Scotland and Hungary.
The glaring issue was casting. I think we’ve established my disbelief of Channing Tatum as a Roman warrior started things off on a really bad foot. Add in all the miscast Americans and you’ve got quite a mess We’ve got Denis O’Hare, aka True Blood’s vampire king as a Roman soldier. Look, there’s Rory Gilmore’s Chilton Headmaster as a senator. So many actors were so very wrong that it was difficult to get past. I watched this with my mother who said, “Heath Ledger could have easily done this and felt more like a hero.” She’s totally right. If they could have started with Heath (or, rest him, someone more like Heath) the rest of the casting would have elevated a step or two higher from what they ended up with. Sutherland and Bell did good jobs. Bell was one of the few correct casting choices in the movie. He fit. Sutherland did not. I was so thrilled when one of my favorite British actors, Mark Strong, showed up. However, he then opened his mouth and out tumbled a strange American accent. WTH?!?! That just really was the cherry on top of what was a group of strange choices.
Looking back over what I’ve written it appears that for every one good thing I then found something bad. So to assist good in triumphing over evil I will say that this movie showed, even in the bad times, what could have been. I could see a good movie in there somewhere but it was weighed down by some bizarre directing choices from a man who has won an Oscar. Just some tweaks and this would have been an engaging movie. But really, the absolute best part of this movie was what it was missing: a love interest. There was no woman to muck things up. Our hero (I use the word cautiously) had only one reason to make it back from his journey and it had nothing to do with bedding some chick.