21st Nov2018

‘Outlaw King’ Review (Netflix)

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Stephen Dillane, Rebecca Robin, Billy Howle, Paul Blair, Sam Spruell, Jonny Phillips, Ben Clifford, Jamie Maclachlan, Duncan Lacroix, Kevin Mains, Callan Mulvey, Steven Cree, Tony Curran, James Cosmo | Written by Bathsheba Doran, David Mackenzie, James MacInnes | Directed by David Mackenzie

outlaw-king-poster

Scottish native David Mackenzie reteams with his Hell or High Water leading star Chris Pine for the Robert the Bruce Netflix exclusive epic Outlaw King. A character and mythology prevalent in Mel Gibson’s critically acclaimed and Oscar-winning epic of William Wallace in Braveheart. While Outlaw King doesn’t hit the great heights of Braveheart, the influence is undoubtedly felt and delivers on an atmospheric and action-oriented epic aesthetic with heart and conviction.

Outlaw King begins with an almost ten-minute long unbroken take of charismatic indulgence, introducing the primary characters that will influence the following two-hour fallout of anger, hatred and rebellion. It’s a brave and powerful choice to inject flavour and charisma into characters that have already set about their political stances and motivations moments before the film actually begins. It is the artistic flair from Mackenzie that dazzles at the moment of intrigue and unknown, but sadly becomes lost in the bravado and conundrum of trying to emulate the action epics that have come before it. It is this notion of replication that somewhat hinders Outlaw King from standing its own ground, on its own two feet – wanting to impress with its own realisation, while also serving as a semi-sequel of sorts to Wallace’s continuing the tale of rebellion.

It is Outlaw King‘s exposition and breathing room that feel hollow and somewhat inconsequential. Ironically rooted in the exploration of the war between the Scots and the English via the political movements and emphasis on the British. Mackenzie captures the spirit and iconography of such a monarch with a heavy dose of darkly enigmatic nature, via beautiful cinematography from famed cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, who captures the scope of the film with a beautifully, frightful intent.

Action sequences are light but hit well, with ferocious intensity and cold atmosphere spilling bloodshed and tears in its wake. It’s all very energetic and engaging. This aspect of production is arguably Mackenzie’s films strongest attribute. The power held in these sequences with the emotional vigour of hope and passion is felt ten-fold courtesy of the performances of Chris Pine and Aaron Taylor Johnson who feed the film’s emotional nature with two stories that linger throughout with the destruction of their families and country while giving opposite performances of intensity that digs deep into an emotionally climatic finale.

Outlaw King is available on Netflix now.

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