“I’m done with running and I’m sick of hiding.”
Though Outlaw King tries to distance itself from 1995’s Braveheart, it’s near impossible to watch this historical counterpart to Mel Gibson’s telling of William Wallace’s fight for Scottish independence without drawing comparisons between the films. The death of Wallace which closes Braveheart here acts as the inciting incident for the rise of a new hero in Scotland’s ongoing war: Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine).
The similarities between Outlaw King and its spiritual predecessor are striking; both are tales of love, hardship, brotherhood and battle (complete with rallying speeches). Warfare is portrayed with suitable brutality, exploration of Scotland’s fractured clans piques interest, and the performances are generally decent. Still, it’s difficult to truly invest in the fate of the characters when many of them are simply underutilised, barring Pine’s Bruce. And even he is a bit of a closed book, emotionally speaking.
While it’s doubtful that film fans will be quoting Bruce’s cry of “I do not care, so long as you fight!” as they did Wallace’s “they’ll never take our freedom!” for years to come, judged on its own merits (of which there are plenty) this is a solid film nonetheless.
Rating (out of 5):