Never Say Never
image from screenrant.com
RANT: The theatre lobby was filled with the elderly and the young, one going to see the Metropolitan Opera in HD, the other to see the new Justin Bieber movie, Never Say Never. When I spoke to the concession attendant if she had Bieber Fever, she exclaimed that the young girls were coming out of the presentation in tears! Never Say Never is the the YouTube generation's answer to A Hard Day's Night.
SYNOPSIS: In 140 AD, a young centurion assumes command of an outpost in Roman-occupied Britain, desperate to regain his family's honor after the disappearance of the Ninth Legion and its eagle standard, led by his father, in Northern Britain 20 years earlier.
The Eagle is based on the Rosemary Sutcliff novel, The Eagle of the Ninth. Directed by Kevin MacDonald from a screenplay by Jeremy Brock, The Eagle s a depiction of one roman soldier's struggle to face uncertain dishonor due to his father's legacy of disappearing with the Ninth Legion and its eagle standard 20 years previous.
The movie plays like a cross between Deniro's The Mission and Kostner's Dances With Wolves, with Crowe's Gladiator sprinkled for flavoring. In the beginning, we join Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) as he boats upriver to the Roman outpost in the Southern Britain outlands. Upon taking command of the garrison and its soldiers, Aquila quickly sheds the legacy of his father by returning the outpost to shape, heading off a midnight attack by the local tribes and demonstrating conspicuous valor while rescuing his patrol from the hands of the local tribe. The first act sequences are quicker paced, providing story, character set-up, conflict and action.
The second act slows down considerably with the introduction of Esca (Jamie Bell), the slave saved by Aquila from the arena and tasked to be a servant to Aquila during his recovery from the outpost battles. As Aquila and Esca ride into the unknown north beyond the Hadrian Wall chasing rumors that the Ninth Legion's eagle standard has been rediscovered, little is gained on film, except the grandeur of the Scottish Highlands on celluloid. Some discoveries are made to point the duo ever closer to Aquila's goal, leading to a slowly building close filled with betrayals and possible redemption.
One of the obvious issues of the film from the beginning for me was that there was no bother to provide even the slightest accent to any of the Roman characters. Almost all had fine American pitch and tone. Only when we encounter the Scottish tribes are we treated to anything that requires a close watch or subtitles. At least we get to enjoy Jamie Bell's brogue once Esca is introduced. And the ending rides into the credits like a strange homage to a buddy cop flick.
I am a fan of historic period actioners. Learning about the Hadrian Wall was cool. And every time I see Channing Tatum, I am reminded of Josh Hartnett - is it just me? Regardless of any of the positive takeaways from The Eagle, it is probably best to let it land on DVD.
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