A long time ago I read Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth, the book this film is based on. It was a very long time ago, I’m pretty sure I checked it out from the children’s library way back in the day. But, here’s the thing, I remember it. And I actually remember details from it. Now my memory is bad, really bad for details like that. But I sometimes remember things that I liked. I certainly forget the unliked rubbish almost as soon as I’ve finished it, books and films. So I can deduce that the book was good.
I also remember really enjoying it.
I do remember hearing about this film when it came out in 2011, but the buzz was not good and I never got around to looking for it. But I spotted it on Netflix and thought it sounded like a decent enough Sunday evening film.
And you know what? It was.
Tatum plays the role of a Roman centurion whose father disappeared along with a legion and an Eagle years ago. He has risen in the ranks and requested a place in Britain so that he could regain his family’s honour. Bell plays the role of his slave, Esca, who becomes his guide north of Hadrian’s Wall.
I think that there are some viewer who may object to Marcus Aquila’s American accent, but he was Roman, he didn’t speak with an English accent either. So that didn’t bother me at all. I actually really enjoyed this film, it is low key in many ways, but has more than enough action and plot to keep you interested.
I do remember the book as being more about friendship and trust and betrayal, than about swashbuckling. The film does have aspects of that, but of course the book had that in more depth.
I also loved the look of the film, from the wilds north of the wall to the fantastic look of the Seal People, it all looks great.
All in all, a pretty good Sunday afternoon film.