Scots versus Romans in epic historical saga “They slit throats of children” Gwyneth’s on song COUNTRY STRONG (12A)
ABRAVE and noble son atones for the sins of his father in Kevin Macdonald’s swords and togas epic, based on the novel The Eagle Of The Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. Set in the wilds of 140 AD England and Scotland but partly filmed in Hungary, The Eagle pits the might of the Roman Empire against the barbarism of the indigenous tribes, who slit the throats of their badly behaved children. Channing Tatum strides manfully into the breach as the emotionally and physically scarred hero of the hour, coping well with the rigours of Jeremy Brock’s screenplay that includes some bone-crunching battle sequences. A skirmish between the legionnaires and the heathens at the beginning of the film, the latter charging into the fray on chariots with blades affixed to wheels, is thrillingly captured by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and editor Justine Wright. Blood and mud spatter the camera lens as swords clash and sinews ripple, at least one soldier losing a limb as those horsedrawn carriages scythe through Roman defences. Underpinning the barbarism is the unlikely friendship between master and slave, whose distrust must be put to one side as they venture north of Hadrian’s Wall, in search of a military trophy. In 120 AD, the entire Ninth Legion disappeared without trace in Scotland and its standard, a golden eagle, was lost forever to the eternal shame of Rome. The commander of those soldiers also vanished and 20 years later, his son, Marcus Aquila (Tatum), accepts a posting in Romanoccupied southern Britain in order to learn the truth about his father’s demise. The young soldier is badly injured protecting his men and he recuperates with the
Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Garrett Hedlund, Tim McGraw.
SET in the glitzy world of country music, Gwyneth Paltrow plays a superstar singer who’s battling her inner demons and the bottle. Following a stint in rehab, she embarks on a tour orchestrated by her husband and manager James (played by country star Tim McGraw), that’s supposed to mark her great career comeback. Only things don’t pan out as planned. The lead actors do their best with what they’ve been given. help of his uncle (Donald Sutherland) and slave boy Esca (Jamie Bell), whom Aquila saves from certain death in the gladiator’s ring. “I hate you and everything you stand for but you saved my life, and I must serve you,” seethes Esca. Once he has regained his strength and mobility, Aquila heads north in search of answers accompanied by Esca, a member of the tribe of savages responsible for slaying the Ninth. The Eagle hinges on the rapport between the leads and Tatum is impressive, bringing a brooding physicality and emotional vulnerability to his role. Bell pales by comparison but gets his moment to shine in a touching scene, when Esca defies the orders of Aquila and refuses to leave the Paltrow in particular puts in a strong performance as the alcoholic star, successfully portraying vulnerability and diva-ish tendencies, even if she does look rather fresh-faced. It’s the script and direction that ultimately let the cast down and the blame can only be laid at the feet of writer and director Shana Feste. This is only her second feature and it shows. FAMILY WATCH: Swearing, Sex, No Violence.
CLASH: Jamie Bell faces a gladiator in The Eagle.