Outlaw King (2018) 

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

Set in the aftermath of Braveheart, this bloody epic follows Robert the Bruce in his quest to rid Scotland of English rule. With William Wallace dead, dismembered, and his body nailed up across the land, most soldiers bend the knee to King Edward (Stephen Dillane). A tough but fair ruler who cares little for his impulsive, hedonistic son, Edward refuses to grant Scottish landowners back their estates, choosing instead to demean them.

This does not set well with Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine), but he keeps his head down and attends to his marriage to the princess to keep the peace. It works for a time, as he comes to love and connect to his fiery wife, who does not shy away from standing up to brutal English soldiers. The persecution of Scottish families continue. With pressure on him to stand up for his country against English oppression, Robert decides to take a stand -- leading to a long, brutal conflict with Edward that may threaten all he holds dear.

After negative test screenings, Netflix released a truncated, heavily-edited, and rearranged version of this film in theaters and on their streaming service. The result is a film that moves at a decent pace but does not have much character development. I never cared much about Robert or his plight. I liked his wife, but their scenes together felt rushed. It seems more a vehicle for "epic" battle scenes than a movie devoted to investing the audience emotionally in the characters. The end result is that there are a lot of gruesome battle sequences (less than there was initially, I'm told) but not a lot of heart. I don't mind male-driven narratives, but it's clear this movie doesn't view me as its target audience. I will say, however, that the acting is excellent. And the opening scene, consisting of a single 8 minute take that ends brilliantly on the shelling of a castle on the horizon, is absolutely fantastic. For a moment, I thought the movie would continue in long takes, which might make it truly interesting -- but it doesn't.

It did make me interested in reading up on Robert the Bruce, so in that respect it was worth watching once, but I doubt I'll ever return to it.

     
Sexual Content:
A long, explicit nude sex scene; a brief scene of full frontal male nudity; a soldier rips a woman's dress of (exposing her breasts) and rapes her (off screen); some sexual references.
 
Language:
Two f-words. Various profanities, insults, and sexual slang.
 
Violence:
Bloody and frequent, ranging from men dismembered in battle to mown down with arrows, hacked in half, beheaded, stabbed, and strangled. Horses meet gruesome ends. The worst scene is a man being hanged, then sliced open so his entrails slither to the ground. People see cut up body parts nailed to posts all across England.

 
Other:
None.