Pitched midway between a history lesson and a swords-and-kilts epic, Outlaw King tells the story of 14th-century Scottish monarch Robert the Bruce, whom you may remember as a minor character in Mel Gibson’s 1995 film Braveheart.
He’s front and centre in director and co-writer David Mackenzie’s film, which stars Chris Pine and covers a relatively brief period, from a Scottish surrender to Edward I (Stephen Dillane) in 1304, to a decisive battle three years later that would lead to another 400 years of Scottish independence.
Along the way he weds Elizabeth Burgh; since it’s an arranged marriage, the gallant Robert waits for her to make the first conjugal move. In fact, he seems pretty reluctant in all things. His murder of a countryman (Callan Mulvey), in a church no less, got Robert excommunicated by the Pope, but the film doesn’t think less of him for it.
Fidelity to the historical record (not in all things, but it tries) means Outlaw King is often bogged down in politics, military feints, negotiations and the business of recruiting soldiers. But there’s still enough adventure to entertain, and here’s to Mackenzie for taking the high road.
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