One US reviewer, MaryAnn Johanson, was “not looking forward with a great deal of anticipation to seeing lunkhead Channing Tatum as a soldier in Roman-era Britain”. However she writes at the start of her review “Color me surprised and impressed”! She writes that The Eagle film from Rosemary Sutcliff‘s novel The Eagle of the Ninth is
… a film that clearly intends to ensure Hollywood cheese is the last thing that comes to mind … and it succeeds admirably, too. Working from the young-adult novel by Rosemary Sutcliff, director Kevin Macdonald and screenwriter Jeremy Brock have crafted an earnest period action drama that stubbornly clings to old-fashioned craftsmanship in character and storytelling … a radical notion at the moment
MaryAnn Johanson thinks “Channing Tatum acquits himself admirably ” as Marcus, a “newly minted Roman soldier”, and that:
.. it’s not with any cruelty or spite that we are presented with the subtle lessons as Marcus gets in perspective: that even an enemy can be honourable, that civilisation is in the eye of the beholder. For as Marcus journeys into darkest Scotland in search of the eagle, and his family’s reputation – accompanied by Esca, a native slave who despises everything Marcus stands for – he gets a smackdown to his arrogance and his ignorance. Vital to the film’s own sense of honour, however, is that Marcus, though he gets a taste of humility and a slightly wider worldview, is never required to be a traitor to his own ideals. It’s a nicely nuanced outlook for a deceptively simple story to take.