Outlaw King (2018)
Outlaw king (or Outlaw/King as it’s shown in the opening credits) tells the true story of Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) and his fight for the independence of Scotland.
I approached this film with some trepidation. I wondered if Chris Pine could pull off a decent Scottish accent, and how Outlaw King would compare with Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Which, let’s be honest, is the gold-standard when it comes to historical retellings north of Hadrian’s Wall.
The answers to those questions were, yes and no. Yes, Chris Pine’s performance, while not overly inspiring was at least not embarrassing, and no, this was Braveheart light.
Historical inaccuracies aside (no one in their right mind would treat either film as a history lesson) Outlaw King is a competently made film, with good production values, serviceable performances, beautiful Scottish vistas, and brutal bloody battles. It’s just never allowed to take off. I got so wrapped up in Braveheart I wanted to paint my face blue and beat up English people (and I’m English!). I had no such desires after watching Outlaw King. If this Bruce asked me to join the battle, I would have to respectfully decline.
Outlaw King isn’t big enough. There’s no rousing musical score and no one to truly care about. There’s no “I am Spartacus” moment, and no one crying “FREEDOM!” I realize this is a Netflix movie, but the ingredients for a truly epic historical drama were there on the screen. This film didn’t look cheap, but director David Mackenzie’s restrained approach was the wrong fit for this story.
These were larger than life characters, legends in fact. A movie about these people needed to honor their sacrifices and go big or go home. Not deliver something on par with an above average episode of Game of Thrones.
Starring: Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh, Billy Howle, Sam Spruell, Tony Curran
Directed by: David Mackenzie
Screenplay by: Bathsheba Doran, James MacInnes, David Mackenzie, Mark Bomback, David Harrower
Rating: R Running Time: 1 hr 57 min.