‘Outlaw King’ | Film Review

Netflix is really putting out a lot of new original content at the end of the year. Most of their movies actually look good and some are even getting a limited theatrical release, Outlaw King is one of those original movies that keeps my interest. Though I can view this for free to enjoy the comfort of medieval action and the dreamy Chris Pine is the lead role, hopefully, an accent can come to fruition after it’s over.

What’s the Story: In the 14th-century after being crowned King of Scotland, legendary warrior Robert the Bruce (Pine) is forced into exile by the English and leads a band of outlaws to help him reclaim the throne.

Chris Pine and Lorne MacFadyen in Outlaw King (2018)

One of the reasons Outlaw King sounded promising is that Pine re-teams with his Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie, and I really liked it despite not being in my top 10 of 2016. Plus, we haven’t had a good historical epic set in the medieval period in a long while. So, after bringing this tale for our viewing pleasure, Outlaw King just comes across as fine for what Mackenzie was trying to deliver.

You gotta give Mackenzie credit for directing a well-made $120 million epic in the way he handles the action and the interactions with the characters. And yes, this is a Netflix movie with a pretty high budget.

I’ve been really impressed with Pine over the past couple years and in here, he does a great job (and I’m not just talking about his penis) as Robert the Bruce. He surprisingly nailed the Scottish accent while also spotting a grey beard and fully committed to his role. Another performance that was a standout was Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) as Elizabeth, Robert’s wife. But my problem is why shouldn’t we the audience care about Robert and his conquest to earn back his homeland? There isn’t much depth of the character.

Billy Howle in Outlaw King (2018)

The other performances given in here are given and take. Billy Howle provides an over-the-top performance as Edward, Prince of Wales where wants an act of vengeance toward Robert, While I’m not a fan of Aaron Taylor-Johnson, he’s was alright as James, Lord of Douglas.  His Scottish accent kind of took me out in some cases, but he kind of makes up for it when he goes insane during the battles.

On a side note, there’s some beautiful cinematography work by Barry Ackroyd capturing some Scottish landscapes and uses candles and natural lights in certain scenes.

For someone who doesn’t know anything about Robert the Bruce, there’s so much to be discovered. This was written by five credited writers (Mackenzie, Bathsheba Doran, James Macinnes, Mark Bomback, David Harrower), and it’s clear that they did their history homework to make this accurate as possible, yet it lacks the time to explore the rest of the characters that are involved. A case that too many writers probably won’t make a satisfying story in the process.

Chris Pine in Outlaw King (2018)

And the decision was made to cut out 20 minutes after its premiere at TIFF was pretty mixed. Since I wasn’t there to see its original 137 minutes, I couldn’t tell if I would’ve preferred that version. This might also serve as a companion piece to Braveheart because they do reference William Wallace and it picks up after.

The first 30 minutes were starting off sluggish, in my opinion, even with an impressively long 10-minute unbroken take. Though it eventually picked up a little bit right where the second act was starting. Even then, there wasn’t an emotional moment thrown in here that I can relate to any one of the characters.

But if you wanna see some bloody mayhem on the battlefield, this is your movie. Mackenzie goes all out in filming these battle sequences with swords and blood in the most convincing way imaginable. It doesn’t come to the epic level of action like Game of Thrones, but it’s very entertaining.

With that in mind, Outlaw King isn’t gonna become Netflix’s best movie to come in the latter half of the year. There should’ve been more meat to story and could have benefited it for being longer. It also felt like it ended a bit anti-climactic. But does a movie like this needs to be enjoyed on the big screen or at home on your laptop/tv screen? I prefer the latter to some extent. This does make me wanna watch Braveheart right after this.

Outlaw King gained a solid performance from Chris Pine and some amazing medieval set pieces, this epic doesn’t come off as impactful or memorable when its storytelling could’ve been told better.

Grade: C+

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