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438. Outlaw King; movie review

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Title : 438. Outlaw King; movie review
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Cert 18
121 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong violence, gore

Apparently, there is more to perfecting a Scottish accent than exaggeratedly repeating the word 'merrrderrr".
Nope, as Chris Pine demonstrates, watching hours and hours of episodes of Taggart and mimicking its characters simply won't do.
Pine has a different approach - his accent is surprisingly acceptable because he has reduced it to a mumble.
But why should an actor who plays Robert The Bruce have to learn it all? (Gerard Butler would certainly have been better qualified).
Whatever - the fact is that he is playing the legendary Scot and faces off the mean old English with gusto. (I know we probably think we get a bad press but it would appear that Edward I deserved it as he violently grabbed the Scottish throne).
David Mackenzie's film begins just as Edward is demanding loyalty from the Scots nobles who remain after his army's rampage.
To seal the deal, a marriage is arranged for a barely willing Robert and an English aristocrat (Florence Pugh).
This adds an intriguing tangent to what ultimately turns into a bloody fight to regain the crown for Scotland.
I was impressed that Outlaw King stuck pretty much to what is known about that bloody period in Britain's history, save a huge slice of licence during its final battle.
Indeed, the history is accurate right down to the extraordinarily gory methods of execution and caged imprisonment.
Meanwhile, the Bruce's derring-do in the face of what would usually be insurmountable odds is entertaining.
Disappointingly, however, some of the acting is strangely wooden and the dialogue stilted. This is particularly true of some of the English characters who reminded me of the white actors in Bollywood films.
Surely, it cannot be that their voices were similarly recorded and lip-synched but that's how it seemed.
I was interested to read that after its poor reception at the Toronto International Film Festival, MacKenzie had to rip at least 20 minutes out of Outlaw King.
That suggests he had taken his eye off the ball during parts of its filming.
This might explain why, on one hand, Pine is intense and convincing and its battle scenes feel true-to-life (and death) but, on the other, it has strangely exaggerated characters such as Billy Howle's Prince Of Wales.
Nevertheless - on balance, it is worth a watch.

Reasons to watch: Chris Pine and some interesting British history
Reasons to avoid: Strangely wooden acting by some of the cast

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: Yes
Nudity: Yes
Overall rating: 7/10

Director quote - David Mackenzie: "I’ve called this an ‘anti-fantasy film,’ because I think it’s easy to mythologise the past and it’s easy to be maximalist about some of these things but it was important for us to serve the history and tell a decent story at the same time.”

The big question - What was Robert the Bruce really like?

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