By Kaylee Brewster
The new Netflix movie “Outlaw King” is a violent history lesson with a beautiful backdrop and compelling characters that works despite slower parts of the film.
In some ways “Outlaw King” is a sequel to Mel Gibson’s 1995 “Braveheart.” After the death of William Wallace, the Scottish lords, including Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine), swear fealty to Edward I, King of England (Stephen Dillane). However, after still being oppressed by Edward, the other Scottish noblemen decide enough is enough and return to their rebellious ways, this time with Robert the Bruce as their leader and king.
Some of the political and historical details get lost in the shuffle of the plot, but the main idea of fighting for Scottish independence is not. As long as audiences don’t get too caught up in the minor details, it’s easy to follow the story.
The spectacle of medieval warfare is a big part of “Outlaw King.” Every bloody battle, every cut of the sword and every skewer of the spear is on display. At the end of battles, men are covered in blood, sweat and so much mud that it’s often difficult to tell characters apart. “Outlaw King” is not for the faint of heart.
However, the battles are few and far between. The fight for Scottish independence was as much diplomatic as it was violent. Robert and his men often are shown traveling to recruit supporters, which isn’t too exciting.
However, during these travels, the gorgeous Scottish landscape is shown off with stunning and sweeping cinematography. When it comes to people-centered scenes, the camera often stands still while characters move toward it, which makes it feel like characters are interacting with the audience.
Speaking of characters, Pine, as Robert, and Florence Pugh, as his wife Elizabeth, both give mesmerizing performances. Pine can be Robert the Bruce, loving husband and father, and then turn around and be a violent warrior. Elizabeth can play a docile woman of the court but also stand up to powerful men for the safety of her people and family.
Although the film is sometimes slow (and just when it starts getting really good it ends), “Outlaw King” is worth watching if you’re looking for some sword and chainmail action, a medieval period drama, a history lesson or you’d rather avoid spending three hours watching “Braveheart.”