Starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland
Directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland)
Rated PG-13 for battle sequences and some disturbing images
Appropriate for ages 15+
When a Roman general leads 5,000 troops into northern Britain, none of the men are heard from again. Twenty years later, the general’s son (Tatum) and his slave (Bell) attempt to find out what happened to his father and return the lost golden Eagle that disappeared two decades prior.
The premise of this adventure has great potential. Personally, I love a good historical battle film, especially when they involve Roman soldiers. And while the cast isn’t as exciting as you would hope, hiring Kevin Macdonald to direct seemed to provide some street cred as well. Unfortunately, there are some huge chinks in the armor here, so to speak, which fatally flaw the picture.
First off is the dry, flat dialog that sounds exponentially worse when spoken in American accents. Perhaps an English accent would have sounded better here, but the words just didn’t sound right coming from this group of actors. Artistically, I think they were trying to give the Britains English accents to distinguish them from the Romans, but there was something here that just didn’t sound right. And casting Donald Sutherland as the uncle was just a terrible idea as his role was phoned in and could have been much better acted by a different character actor who wasn’t hired for his name recognition.
Secondly, PG-13 is not the arena this film should be fighting in. Should they have had the sense to take this project seriously, this would have been a strong R and much more realistic and enjoyable. As it is, the battle sequences are toned down and hardly a drop of blood is seen. If Braveheart or Gladiator had opted for a PG-13, then not only would they have been lame, but forgotten as well. I can understand the need for attracting a younger audience, but not when it damages the integrity of the project.
Finally, the film turns into kind of a buddy movie, especially in this joke of an ending . That worked in HBO’s Rome because of the strength of the writing, but after this ending I could only imagine Tatum and Bell setting off on an adventure that could also be cast with Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider.
If you can’t tell, I had a lot of trouble taking this film seriously and found it to be an unremarkable movie that couldn’t come close to living up to its potential. C-