2011, Movies

The Eagle (2011, Kevin Macdonald)

This movie tries really hard. It’s clear a lot of effort went into the film, including the costumes and, particularly, the use of Gaelic – even though, with a few minutes research, it turns out it likely wasn’t Gaelic they would have been speaking.

But there are a couple of really annoying things that keep the movie from being competent.

  • Tatum speaks with an accent – though that accent wavers between bad British and no accent – whereas nearly ever other English-speaking actor in the film (perhaps all of them) speak with their natural voices. Why did they let him try the accent???
  • The “Seal People” are imagined as some kind of mixture of Polynesian and North American natives and this makes zero sense for the land they live in: it’s cold, but sometimes everyone is mostly naked and they are water, and shit like that.
  • Also, Hungary doesn’t do a good job of standing in for England. (Though, at least, the Scottish scenes are actually in Scotland.)
  • Finally, the idea that Esca’s tribe fought where it did seems preposterous and, if it comes from the source novel, it strikes me that the author has no real, physical knowledge of Britain.

This movie is very, very serious and there is zero sense of humour. It’s pretty boring. I think a story like this, which is more than a little incredible and which features a fairly weak performance at its centre, could use some humour.

Oh well.


  • Directed by Kevin Macdonald
  • Produced by Duncan Kenworthy
  • Screenplay by Jeremy Brock
  • Based on The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
  • Starring
    • Channing Tatum as Marcus Flavius Aquila
    • Jamie Bell as Esca
    • Donald Sutherland as Marcus’s Uncle Aquila
    • Mark Strong as Guern/Lucius Caius Metellus
    • Tahar Rahim as Prince of the Seal People
    • Denis O’Hare as Centurion Lutorius
    • Douglas Henshall as Cradoc
    • Paul Ritter as Galba
    • Dakin Matthews as Legate Claudius
    • Pip Carter as Tribune Placidus
    • Ned Dennehy as Chief of the Seal People
  • Music by Atli Örvarsson
  • Cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle
  • Edited by Justine Wright
  • Production companies: Toledo Productions, Film4 Productions, DMG Entertainment
  • Distributed by Focus Features, Universal Pictures
  • Release date: February 11, 2011
  • Running time: 114 minutes
  • Country: United States, United Kingdom
  • Language: English, Scottish Gaelic, Irish
  • Budget: $25 million
  • Box office: $35.5 million

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