When I first heard of Outlaw King, I thought it was about some kind of Viking king. Though I suppose it was the Vikings TV show that got me thinking that. I don’t know why, really. Instead it’s about Robert the Bruce, a notable king from a medieval Scotland. In truth, it’s about what happened after the events of Braveheart (with Mel Gibson), so if you ever wanted a sequel to that film, this is the best you’re going to get.
The film starts during the darkest days during the War of Scottish Independence. Most Scottish lords are now bending the knee to King Edward I of England. The English monarch knows very well (as he was a major reason for its chaotic nature) that Scotland no longer has a king, so King Edward I basically becomes its unquestionable “lord” of the whole country. Robert the Bruce initially accepts Edward’s deal, peace and stability for letting the English rule above the Scots.
Though after the death of the Scottish hero William Wallace, most Scots are furious. Robert the Bruce manages to get himself crowned King of Scots. But it won’t be an easy reign. The Pope will surely make him lose a lot of religious support, and King Edward I of England will not be happy about a new rival to challenge him in the north.
And sure enough, King Robert I of the House/Clan Bruce will find that being king ain’t easy. His own country is split on whether to support him as king or not. England is surely against him and they have plenty of knights and foot soldiers to prove it. To make matters worse, Edward, the Prince of Wales is looking for a war to win to impress his father.
Outlaw King disappointed me more than I expected. This Netflix film was pretty expensive for them to make with its star cast (Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, plus a lot of Game of Thrones alumni), fancy director, and impressive battle scenes. But I thought the story and its flow of story-telling was its biggest enemy. While they do have to work with history (though they do make many inaccuracies) I found the first half to be boring, and the Prince of Wales to be too unlikable even for a villian. Though the second half is pretty good, which was enough to save from mediocrity it for me, thankfully.