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Outlaw King (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

Outlaw King


Starring Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh, Billy Howle, Sam Spruell, Tony Curran, Stephen Dillane, Steven Cree, Alistair MacKenzie, Chris Fulton, Lorne Macfadyen, Jack Greenlees, Rebecca Robin, Paul Blair, Jonny Phillips, Ben Clifford, Jamie MacLachlan, Callan Mulvey, James Cosmo, Stephen McMillan, Gemma McElhinney and Victoria Liddell.

Screenplay by Bash Doran, David Mackenzie and James MacInnes.

Directed by David Mackenzie.

Distributed by Netflix. 121 minutes. Rated R.

I walked into Outlaw King with the lowest of expectations. The reviews have been mediocre, complaining of too-violent battles scenes and a more prep school version of Robert the Bruce. As a Chris Pine fan, I was willing to give it a chance, because at the end of the day, 121 minutes with Chris Pine is usually worth my time. People go to films for a variety of reasons; Chris Pine is one of mine.

Don’t go into Outlaw King expecting Braveheart. Robert the Bruce’s story is different from William Wallace’s story, though they did face similar brutal situations and even overlapped a bit in Scottish history. Robert the Bruce (played by Chris Pine) was already privileged as son of the favored family of King Edward. Per the film, he grew up having mock sword fights with The Prince of Wales (played by Billy Howle). In an early scene, the film sets the stage for their long-term antagonism, particularly after Robert takes back the Scottish crown, declaring war on England’s rule.

Robert the Bruce is so favored by King Edward that the King connects him with his goddaughter, Elizabeth de Burgh (played by Florence Pugh), to be his second wife. Robert the Bruce is already a single father when the story begins and is portrayed to have a loving relationship with his daughter, which extends to his respectful behavior towards his new bride. The film does a good job slowly developing the couple’s relationship as husband and wife.

Pine’s Scottish accent is not always consistent, but never distracting. He is at his best when he is shown in the trenches, fighting side by side with his countrymen or partnered in a scene with his wife. Pugh’s performance is strong – a queen who fights for her people and her family, despite tortuous consequences.

Outlaw King’s cinematography is breathtaking, with sprawling, wide shots of the various Scottish scenery including the mountains, the islands, and the sea. The story twists and turns as Robert the Bruce and his small army move from location to location, trying to unite the people together against the British. They know full well that they are mounting a fight where the odds are not good, against the world’s strongest army at the time. We are shown their national pride and loyalty, whether for – or against – Robert and his plan.

The opening and closing historical text goes quickly.  Bring glasses and be prepared to read quickly. It will be good for Netflix, where you can pause and read, but on the big screen, well, even a proficient reader is going to have difficulty getting through the text.

I really enjoyed Outlaw King. In my opinion, the film had everything that I am looking for in a film (and not just its leading man): drama, romance, EPIC battle scenes, and a little humor from time to time. Plus, it is being released on Netflix, though if you have the opportunity to see it on a big screen, the cinematography is well worth it.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: November 9, 2018.

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