Channing Tatum plays Marcus Flavius Aquila. He wants to lead a group of Roman soldiers into a part of unsecured Great Britain to re-capture the roman symbol of the golden eagle on a staff that was lost in a previous campaign, led by his father. Marcus gets himself assigned to a remote outpost on the edges of the Roman-controlled territory. Newly in the position of command, he is cautioned by his underlings not to push the men too hard to avoid alienating them. But his intuition tells him something is wrong in the middle of the night. He quietly issues orders for all the men to wake up and take positions on the wall to repeal any attack. At first, it appears he is wrong in his calculations but then suddenly the outpost comes under attack exactly as he expected. Because his men are at the walls and prepared for the fight, instead of being asleep, they easily repel the hoards of Druid invaders that attempt to come over the wall in the middle of the night.
This first victory gives him great respect from his men. They all know that if he had not been so wise to see an attack was coming that they could all have easily died. But they next day the Druids bring a captured scouting team that Marcus had sent out the day before. They behead the leader of the scouts before their eyes. Marcus launches a counter-attack by going outside of the fort walls. Even though this is successful, he is very badly injured in the fight.
Marcus is forced to go to his Uncle's house to take time to recuperate and finds out he has been dismissed by the army because of his injuries. After he recovers, he decides to go into the forbidden territory to seek out what happened to his father's legion that lost the golden eagle to the barbarians. He takes a slave Esca (played by Jamie Bell) with him that knows the area. They reverse roles so he pretends to be a slave that is captured by the other one as a deception so they can pass into the wild territory without meeting resistance.
They venture deep into the uncontrolled area and learn what happened to the legion of Romans that were led by Marcus's father. Marcus finds the golden eagle being used in a strange tribal ceremony, steals it, and heads back towards Roman-controlled territory. He does not make it back without having to fight with all his might to finally overcome all and vindicate his family's name.
Best part of story, including ending:
It is interesting to see a historical story where the Romans met some resistance that partially defeated them in their attempt to conquer the world.
Best scene in story:
I like the scene when Marcus has to trust his slave, Esca, and pretends to be the slave of Esca instead. It is an interesting role reversal.
Opinion about the main character:
I am not quite sure why Marcus goes to so much trouble to re-capture the golden eagle. It is a symbol of Roman power but also he knows of the political corruption. So he is not really fighting for a pure cause, but only for the memory of his father.