December 19, 2018
Outlaw King (2018)
Grade: 70/100

Director: David Mackenzie
Stars: Chris Pine, Florence Pugh, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

What it's about. This medieval UK drama picks up practically where Braveheart left off, except Edward I (Stephen Dillane) is still alive, and the Prince of Wales (Billy Howie) is not a homosexual stereotype.

Once again, English royalty are the villains, and a handful of Scottish lords are the heroes. In particular, Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) becomes the heroic symbol of Scottish independence, overcoming the treachery of rival Scot lords to humiliate both the elder and younger King Edwards.

But it is not for the squeamish. Expect plenty of violence, and those with kiddies might be leery of the belated consummation of the marriage of Pine and Pugh.

How others will see it. The film has no real box office, since it was made for Netflix streaming. It has no awards (as of yet) because it skipped both theaters and, for the most part, the festival circuit.

What it does have is viewers. At, the two-month old movie already has 32K user votes. The user rating of 7.0 (out of 10) is lower than expected. Despite gore worthy of an "R" rating, women over 45 grade it best (7.2), presumably because the female lead, Pugh, is essentially perfect, and is treated by Robert the Bruce as if she was made of precious glass.

Interestingly, the chief complaint within the user reviews is that the film is too short. Since it is a Netflix production, why not turn it into a series. This would, if nothing else, give us additional glimpses of Pugh's bosom. As well as many more gruesome deaths in battle.

How I felt about it. As always after watching a historical drama, the first task is to research the movie's accuracy. This effort typically has no impact on the film's grade, but is necessary to prevent writing something stupid, e.g. "That could never happen!" when in fact it did.

All we can reasonably ask, in terms of historical accuracy, is whether the events portrayed are plausible. Thus, it is plausible that Edward II would lead his troops into battle. It is not plausible that he would engage in hand-to-hand combat with Robert the Bruce. It is ludicrous that the Scots would allow Edward II to slink away instead of holding him captive for ransom, if nothing else to exchange him for Robert the Bruce's daughter and hottie wife.

It is also implausible that Robert the Bruce would engage in hand to hand combat. A chessboard king is sheltered until the queens and rooks are off the board.

We also are suspicious of the superman soldier, such as James Douglas, who slays opponents by the dozen without receiving a scratch. Let this instead be the domain of Marvel comic film adaptations.

Despite these handicaps, we must admit that Outlaw King is a fine adrenaline rush. If you loved Braveheart (and, if so, it's okay to admit it) then Outlaw King is nearly as enjoyable, as well as an hour shorter.

My Best Performance award goes to the actor playing Edward I, Stephen Dillane. Billy Howie also does well as the Prince of Wales, and if Florence Pugh is not a great actress, she certainly is a great looker.

But the kudos belong to the director, David Mackenzie, and the first-billed writer, Bathsheba Doran. They make this version of "Game of Thrones" more interesting than expected.