Some of you saw this title and said “Oh great, yet another medieval Game of Thrones wannabe,” and, to a point, you would be right; but only in the fact that a few show runners and actors from HBO’s series are a part of this project. The Outlaw King is, in many ways, a companion movie to Braveheart and has some star power in Star Trek’s Chris Pine. To be fair, the movie snuck up on me. When I first heard about it, my initial thought was that this was going to be another Netflix series 10 hour slogfest that I didn’t need. Thankfully, this was a two hour movie.
The story is concerning Pine’s Robert the Bruce as he bands together his fellow Scotsmen after King Edward I subjugates them. Robert the Bruce initially doesn’t want to bow to the king however, in order to keep the peace he does. Once the English settle in, Robert sees how unpopular and brutal the English invaders are, thus he chooses to rise up and fight.
From a cinematography point of view, the movie is gorgeous. There are scenes of expansive country sides, gritty towns and sometimes, lots of mud. There is great costuming here as well, especially the armor for most of the soldiers. All in all, if you wanted a pretty-looking movie, it’s here in spades.
However, this film is not without its faults. It suffers from some editing and pacing issues. Before I get into further detail, let me explain one thing. I discovered, in chatting with one of my friends, that the cut that is on Netflix is actually not the same one used for the Toronto International Film Festival. This may be understandable because there are a lot of jarring transitions in the movie that don’t make sense. There are examples of a character having a personal moment in one scene with another, only to be literally dead and on a bier in the next segment. You have a couple making love in one scene and literally tucking a child to sleep in another. There are characters through the whole movie who just disappear for no reason. The pacing of the movie is just as jarring, as it starts off too slow. There are points where it picks up, only to have it drop right back to zero in the next scene — followed by a fight in the scene after that. It’s brutal!
To be fair, the acting here by Pine and company is pretty good. The performances are enough to keep you on board for the movie. Pine’s accent is a bit iffy and it may make you wonder why they didn’t hire a Scot for the role, but it passes just enough. Florence Pugh, however, is a hidden gem as her role shows how comfortable she was with her character as well as a good foil for Pine. Here is to hoping that she gets meatier roles beyond this.
All in all, The Outlaw King isn’t a bad movie, nor is it a great one. If you can survive the horrible transitions and the pacing, it’s a good watch. I am interested, however, to see what the other cut looked like to see if it would have helped with the pacing and transitions. Otherwise, I am ready for The Last Kingdom which also has a Season 3 premier next week.
3 Bloody Crowns out of 5