Outlaw King review: Beards, blood, basically it's Braveheart

CNET | 11/9/2018 | Richard Trenholm
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Chaaaarge! New blood 'n' thunder epic Outlaw King hit Netflix Friday, and it's got everything you'd want from a sword-waving historical action movie: beards, attackers thwacking at each other with axes, gorgeous scenery, beards, political intrigue, and more beards. Starring Star Trek star Chris Pine and set in 14th-century Scotland, this medieval melee proves you can take our Netflix subscription, but you'll never take our freedom.

Damn -- nearly made it through a whole paragraph without mentioning Braveheart. Outlaw King picks up where Mel Gibson's multi-Oscar-winning 1995 epic left off, as Scottish nobleman Robert the Bruce battles to win independence from England. A minor character in Braveheart, Robert takes centre stage in Outlaw King, played by Pine with a Scots burr and yes, a beard.

Chris - Pine - Robert - Bruce - Netflix

Chris Pine is Robert the Bruce in Netflix's Outlaw King.

Outlaw King opens promisingly, with an audaciously lengthy continuous single shot setting up Robert's world. Opening in a tent where England's ruthless King Edward lays down the law to his defeated Scots enemies, the camera follows Pine out into watery daylight for a brisk sword fight before ending with a spectacular display of medieval might. It's a bravura beginning from director David Mackenzie that establishes what we're in for: political intrigue, clanging swords, mud, and seriously epic beards.

Battalions - Warriors - Honour - Battles - Backdrop

You can't beat battalions of brooding warriors who growl at each other about honour before charging into broadsword battles against a backdrop of moody grey skies. Scotland is shown off in all its crisp beauty: rippling grass, shimmering lakes and windswept hillsides, with Celtic song echoing across pastoral scenes. Robert and his mates parade around at rowdy banquets, dressed in sumptuous curtains and lit by amber candlelight, before coronations and battles fill the width of the screen with pageantry and warfare. You really see where your Netflix fee goes as armies...
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