The story of Outlaw King, one of the most anticipated film productions on Netflix in 2018, takes place in Scotland during the fourteenth century – a period well known to film buffs, as the classic “Braveheart” directed by Mel Gibson in 1996, addresses the same historical period (watch here).
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In addition, a supporting character in the 5-Oscar winning film becomes the protagonist in this very well directed work by David Mackenzie: Robert the Bruce, who became one of the main heroes in the conquest of Scottish independence.
As it is known, Scotland was an area dominated by the United Kingdom at the time. But its people had a very different mind than the Crown that ruled them. In this way, there were many struggles to gain independence and form a new country, rooted in its own culture. Of course, the British government did not make things easy – as William Wallace, Gibson’s character in the ’96 movie, proved – but despite this setback, the fight had to continue. Therefore, it is possible to say that Outlaw King has umbilical bonds with “Braveheart”, being a kind of continuation of the heroic narrative of the Scottish people liberation.
The drama of the crownless king
In this movie, Robert the Bruce is played by Chris Pine in what is probably the best part of his career. After spending years and years gaining more roles for his aesthetic beauty than for his talent, here he finds the perfect vehicle to prove that he is, in fact, a great actor. He demonstrates this not only in the most dramatic scenes, where he ends up suffering the hardships of being a king without a crown, but also in the battle scenes where he excels. His interpretation is strong and vivid, leaving no doubt about the actor’s courage and emotional delivery to his character.
The plot of Outlaw King tells the story of Robert the Bruce after being crowned king of Scotland, but that undergoes an attack of the English army that has thrown him out of the throne. Living as an outlaw, always running away, he needs to rebuild his kingdom and his army, and regain control of his country. Because of this, he has to try to motivate his allies, who do not believe in a resumption of the crown because of the enormous military superiority of the United Kingdom. However, Robert is obstinate and obsessed, not by the crown as a symbol of power, but in making his people free in the end.
This narrative may seem complicated and overly heavy, but this is where David Mackenzie’s performance in the direction is enforced. Responsible for a new film classic (“Hell or High Water”, nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture in 2017), he once again commands a project that could overturn his pretensions to a place in the sun in the pantheon of renowned directors in business. Outlaw King, however, ensured his stay on this team: having an absurd control of the story, without leaving any loose end, he delivers an excellent movie, full of drama and action, without ever sounding tiresome.
Conquering hearts and minds
The technical aspects of Outlaw King are also commendable. The photography of Barry Ackroyd is beautiful, despite portraying the era as a dirtier and gray society. The art drection is also not far behind, reproducing Scotland and England of the fourteenth century with perfection. If this were not a Netflix movie, it would have been secured in the race for technical Oscars next year.
However, we know that the Academy is still prejudiced with productions that go straight to streaming. A shame. Outlaw King has everything to win viewers’ hearts and minds, and has the potential to stand as one of the great productions of this year. It deserves, of course, more recognition in the awards. If it does not, well, the public will certainly try to give due value to this magnificent work.
Images and additional information about Outlaw King Netflix
Synopsis 1: Outmanned. Outmatched. Outlawed. For freedom, honor and family, a rebel king takes on the mightiest army in the world.
Synopsis 2: In 14th-century Scotland, Robert the Bruce claims the crown and leads a fierce uprising to win back the country’s independence from English rule.