120 A.D. - The Roman Army's 9th Legion stationed at Lindum (now Lincoln, England) marched into the unconquered territory of Northern Britain. From then on, some 5,000 Roman soldiers were never seen again. Their disappearance became a huge embarrassment to the Roman army, most especially the commander's family! Twenty years later, Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum), a centurion, volunteers to head the remaining Roman army stationed in southern Britain in what they'd call a "shithole". This was to solve the mystery of his missing father, as well as find the emblem of the Legion - a golden "Eagle".
After having been injured, Marcus Aquila saves a slave Esca (Jamie Bell) from death. He takes Esca with him through Hadrian's Wall as they both navigate the treacherous Highlands searching for clues on the whereabouts of Marcus' father. Was he humiliated in death - if he indeed has died? Were there survivors?
Hadrian's Wall was a defensive fortification in northern England. Begun in AD 122, during the rule of emperor Hadrian, it was the first of two fortifications built across Great Britain, the second being the Antonine Wall, lesser known of the two because its physical remains are less evident today. The wall was the most heavily fortified border in the Empire. In addition to its role as a military fortification, it is thought that many of the gates through the wall would have served as customs posts to allow trade and levy taxation.
I am fascinated that there was a bustling civilization in 120 A.D. - a world governed by conquerors and fraught with war, starvation and constant fight for survival. The story itself isn't as sound as I hoped it would be. The Romans didn't look Italians. Channing Tatum, after all, is as American as anyone gets. And the savage Painted Warriors seemed like Native American Indians. Regardless of the film wrestling with authenticity, I have always liked Channing Tatum despite his limitations in artistic insight. He looks like a screen hero, and sometimes, that suffices.
Jamie Bell, all grown up and has shed his "Billy Elliot" persona years ago, plays sympathetic British slave Esca who takes Marcus' journey to heart. Once you look beyond the aforementioned shortcomings, Kevin Macdonald's "The Eagle" could be an entertaining action-drama-adventure on reclaiming honor and unveiling gallantry. Moreover, friendship is always an enviable entity.