Film Review – The Eagle
I may be an English major but my minor is in the study of History, and Ive taken more courses on military history than I care to count. I have an obscene love for the study of nations and their militaries and the wars that they fought. I have a particular love of the American Civil War, the English civil war (F##k Cromwell!) and the war of Texan independance. But I do have a special place in my soul for the Roman Empire. The scope and span of their military conquests and the innovations they brought to modern warfare are almost immeasureable and I think much can be learned from the manner in which they conducted their expansion where it comes to the strategy of conducting war in foreign lands.
Aside from my interest in military history I’m also interested in my Irish ancestry, and like to think that I still retain some of the wild batshit insanity of my Celtic ancestry somewhere in my bloodline. My family comes from disgraced Irish nobility, when some hundreds of years ago we were stripped of our titles and lands by the British after being accused of fraud and forgery. Whether or not we were actually guilty is another matter entirely. So any film that deals with the roots of my culture I try to make a point to see. I mean, I even saw that horrid King Arthur film with Clive Owen a few years back.
The Eagle is not a horrible film. It’s not even technically bad. It’s just very middle of the road. The historical aspect regarding the tribes of celts in the British northlands is very accurate in most respects, and for that I was pleased, but everything else just seemed off. I realize that the director of the film seemingly wanted to make a statement about the United States’ modern military operations in the Middle East when it comes to the way the military handles native cultures in a time of war, as evidenced by the fact that the Roman legions all spoke with American accents and acted more like an American military unit than a battalion of Roman centurions. Though their military tactics, well documented throughout time, were accurately reproduced for the most part.
The biggest problem with the film is the pacing, as parts of each act seemed to drag on far longer than they needed to which seemed to be counterintuitive to the film’s reluctance to go the extra mile. While we are forced to sit through dull portions that could have been cut, the few action scenes we get are truncated and lack any sort of real thrill as the shakey-cam and lack of focus on any visceral violence takes the viewer out of the element entirely. The film goes full bore in all the wrong directions for the majority of its runtime.
Wait until it hits home video and then watch it after viewing last years effort by Doomsday director Neil Marshall entitled Centurion which could act as the defacto prequel to this film and everything should even out well enough.