Lisa Schwarzbaum, film critic for EW, gives The Eagle film a B+.
It is (an) invigorating, cool-toned, action-filled Roman historical adventure … Millions who have read Rosemary Sutcliff‘s ripping 1954 historical novel named after that eagle already know the stakes. Anyone else ready for rugged action involving swords, sandals, designated savages, and bonding between political adversaries is bound to fall in happily with the mood of this handsome, lean production. The story and setting may be ancient, but under the direction of Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), and with a nicely textured screenplay by Macdonald’s Scotland co-screenwriter Jeremy Brock, the vigor is fully modern. The director’s documentary background informs his almost reportorial attention to landscape, fighting technique, and especially the wild, fascinating otherness of the peoples beyond the reach of Rome. The characteristically rich grain of the (often handheld) cinematography by Slumdog Millionaire‘s Anthony Dod Mantle adds to the you-are-there feeling.