‘Outlaw King’

‘Outlaw King’

This latest original feature film from Netflix takes viewers back to the bloody 14th century battlefields of Scotland, where a fight for independence from England continues under the leadership of one Robert Bruce. 

“Star Trek” movie captain Chris Pine wears the unassuming, quiet “King of Scots” crown as the outlaw Bruce leading a rebellion against England’s King Edward I and his merciless army. Armed with only a few dozen loyalists against Britain’s overwhelming force of horse soldiers, Pine does a masterful job of convincing everyone (including us) that he and his revolution have a chance for success.

Scottish film director David Mackenzie, whose 2016 west Texas bank robberies story “Hell or High Water” earned an Academy Award nomination for best picture, reunites with Pine to bring us this 1304 AD nail-biting suspense drama. Complimenting Pine’s stellar performance is a cast of affable Scots and one pre-arranged spouse—Florence Pugh as King Edward I’s goddaughter Elizabeth de Burgh. 

Pugh, a British actress with one of the most difficult roles in “Outlaw King,” does a wonderful job of peeling back the stoic side of Bruce to showcase a bit more of his personality and heart. A complicated feat in a mostly action-packed war film.

Superb performances abound throughout “Outlaw King.” Most of the film, though, encompasses bloody, brutal battle scenes. Some of which depict gore and mutilation of bodies. Thus, horse lovers will be uncomfortable with the portrayal of graphic injuries and deaths to these animals during the muddy, savage fight scenes.

A well above average film for intensity and suspense, “Outlaw King” never has the time to peer further into the main players for more character depth. Digging deeper into each man’s soul beyond their hatred for England’s rule gets repeatedly interrupted by approaching British armies and the need to mobilize or strategize a Scottish response. 

“Outlaw King” highlights the legend behind Scotland’s revolt against King Edward I and his son. Taking off where William Wallace and Mel Gibson’s 1995 Oscar-winning best picture “Braveheart” left off, this Netflix war film merits viewing for military history buffs. Others, though, must have a strong stomach to withstand the violent, over-the-top battlefield skirmishes. Excellent performances by Pine and his on-screen lover Pugh make this true story worth checking out.        

Grade: B

“Outlaw King” is rated R with a running time of 2 hours and 17 minutes. It’s available on Netflix.

Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the Reel Brief movie blog at reelbrief.com.  Email him at reelbriefmoviereviews@mail.com.

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