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May 1, 2019

Outlaw King (2018) --- "Based on the Untold True Story."

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
   It’s 1304 and Sir. William Wallace has been drawn and quartered, and old Scottish lords are tired of war and have bent the knee to the English Empire. And while England believes that they’ve crushed the rebellion, the younger generation only surrendered reluctantly and to bide their time for an opportunity to strick back. After being crowned King of Scotland, legendary warrior Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) has been declared an Outlaw by the English Empire and is forced into exile. Rather than go quietly, Robert the Bruce raises an army of Scottish outlaws and uses bravery and cunning tactics to take on a much larger and better-equipped enemy and reclaim the throne. Directed by David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water) and co-written alongside Bathsheba Doran (The Looming Tower) and James MacInnes (Rocket Post), Netflix’s Outlaw King (2019) is a “true to historical events” film that follows an epic journey across the beautiful Scottish landscape and captures heroism at its finest.

    Obviously, Outlaw King (2019) takes place after the events in Braveheart (1995) and it is surprisingly one of Netflix’s best films yet. The story may be based on true events but it is very engaging and profound as it provides a gritty portrayal of the 14th century. The first 20 minutes are a bit rushed, especially since that part provides the connection between Outlaw King and Braveheart but after that, the pace slows down enough for the audience to learn the characters and yet still maintain a fast enough pace for the action sequences. There is some built up emotional tension throughout and the action sequences are gritty and bloody. However, I do wish that there were more wide shots of the action sequences, too many close-up fight scenes made things a bit confusing at times, once second their fighting and next they're not.
I also wish that the film was a bit longer, most of the final resolutions were shown in the film’s ending captions. Plus there were two subplots that would have made interesting scenes should they have been included in the film. The first story takes place at the Battle of Bannockburn, which is the real battle that won the war. While The Bruce was still giving his speech to his army, an English knight seeking glory decided to charge at the Scottish lines believing that they would catch The Bruce unprepared. However, The Bruce only pretended not to notice the enemy charging, waiting until the last moment to dodge the knight’s lance and decapitate him with his ax. The ax was cracked in half upon impact and is now on display in the museum at the site of the battle. The second story follows The Black Douglas who single-handedly took back Edinburgh Castle from the English by climbing the cliffs and walls freehanded in order to sneak in at night and unlock the Castle gate from the inside. These two sub-stories would have made the film even more incredible had they been included, however, that is not the case and what we are left with is still pretty incredible and this is clearly one of Netflix's finer moments.
   Style-wise, Outlaw King is much more realistic than Braveheart. While it is grim and gritty it is also visually breathtaking with beautiful cinematography of actual Scottish landscape, unlike the iconic battle scene in Braveheart which was shot in Ireland
    The cast performances are solid throughout. Chris Pine (Star Trek Beyond) is one of my favorite actors as he has demonstrated that he has a very versatile acting range. He’s played a space captain, an average Joe, a comedic spy, a serious spy, a fictional Christmas character, a disgruntled employee, a fairytale prince, an apocalypse survivor, a U.S. Coast Guard,  an ex-con cowboy, WWI pilot, a scientist, and now a Scottish King. Pine gives an incredible performance as Robert the Bruce, and although I am not professional when it comes to accents, his accent was pretty good in my opinion. The supporting cast gave some outstanding performances as well, especially Florence Pugh (Little Women, Fighting with Family) as, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (The Wall, Nocturnal Animals) as The Black Douglas, Tony Curran (Defiance, Seal Team) as Angus Og McDonald, and Billy Howle (On Chesil Beach) as Edward, Prince of Wales.

   Overall, Netflix’s Outlaw King (2019) is a dramatic, compelling, gritty and realistic account of Robert the Bruce’s campaign for Scottish independence. The story builds up some emotional tension and the action sequence are bloody and violent. The cast performances are solid and compelling, especially Chris Pine who showcases once again how versatile of an actor he is. This is definitely one of Netflix’s better-made films, and if you enjoy history-based films or medieval battle sequences then I highly recommend that you watch this film.

Final Vote --- 8 of 10 stars

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