Thanks to the constantly updated list of the most popular movies on Netflix, the 2011 historical adventure film, The Eagle, is currently enjoying a resurgence. Judging by the film’s lackluster box office at the time of its release, the vast majority of subscribers could really use three reasons why they should watch The Eagle on Netflix. But it’s already gotten a head start by landing on Netflix’s movie chart.
Director Kevin Macdonald and screenwriter Jeremy Brock adapted the film from Rosemary Sutcliff”s novel, The Eagle of the Ninth. The story takes place in the second century A.D., 20 years after the famous disappearance of the Ninth Legion somewhere in Britain. The leader of the Ninth was the father of Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum), and his family has suffered a significant loss of status since then. To reclaim his family’s lost honor, Marcus resolves to investigate the Ninth’s fate and retrieve the eagle standard that was flown by his father’s men.
Jamie Bell co-stars in the film as Esca, with Donald Sutherland as Aquila, Mark Strong as Guern, Tahar Rahim as Prince of the Seal People, Denis O’Hare as Centurion Lutorius, and Douglas Henshall as Cradoc. Now that you have all of the basic info that you need, we’ll share our three reasons why you should watch The Eagle on Netflix.
The Eagle is very lucky that it doesn’t have to rely solely on Tatum. Don’t misunderstand what we’re saying, Tatum has talent as an actor, but his range is somewhat limited. The Eagle works because Tatum’s Marcus has to share most of his scenes with Jamie Bell’s Esca. Early in the film, Marcus saves Esca from certain death in the Gladiatorial games and takes him on as a personal slave. Because Esca is from Brigantia north of Hadrian’s wall, Marcus brings Esca with him to Britain on his quest to recover the eagle.
There’s a really interesting dynamic that follows because there is real affection between Marcus and Esca, but neither man loses sight of the fact that only Esca is a slave in this relationship. That seems to weigh heavily on Esca and creates moments of real tension, but he feels that he owes Marcus his life. For better or worse, they’re bound together to see Marcus’ quest to the end.
Although The Eagle is a relatively recent historical action film, director Kevin Macdonald didn’t go overboard with modern flourishes. In other words, you can follow the action without getting a migraine headache. That makes this movie feel very old-school, and the weapons and tactics appear to be faithful to this time period. We’re not experts in this timeframe, but as viewers, we can buy into the way that Marcus and the surviving members of the Ninth go into battle.
It also helps that the stakes are down to Earth and easily understandable. We never lose sight of Marcus’ goal to reclaim the eagle and his family’s honor, as well as his desire to survive the experience. However, he and Esca will have to fight their way out from behind enemy territory.
Sometimes, locations really can make a movie. Compared to other period flicks from the last two decades, there’s a refreshing lack of CGI settings. Instead, the beautifully shot backdrops easily allow the viewer to accept the reality of this film’s world. The atmosphere alone creates a sense of foreboding dread as Marcus and Esca go deeper into unfamiliar territory.
As you can see in the pictures above, the action is a lot more convincing when it looks like it is happening somewhere real and tangible. It seems like a lost art in the streaming era. But that’s why this is one of the big reasons that you should catch The Eagle while it’s still on Netflix.
Watch The Eagle on Netflix.