“The Outlaw King” is an historical look at what happened in Scotland after the end of the movie “Braveheart”. After William Wallace failed to lead the people of Scotland in a rebellion to gain freedom from England, another person took over. That person was from the family of Bruce, who once had an actual claim to the royal leadership of the Scots. When England took over and held the land for generations, finally a true rebellion grew from the mistreatment. English kings held Scotland like golden goose, always taking the golden eggs. They are leaving only the shells for the Scottish people.
When the failed Rebellion put William Wallace on the run, the Scottish nobles were forced to declare loyalty to King Edward I (Stephen Dillane) The King’s son was Edward, Prince of Wales (Billy Howle). He was put in charge of keeping the Scots in line and paying taxes. One Scotsman was ready to break against the brutal leadership of England. That was Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine). His father was the one to give up the fight and swear the oath to the King. But Robert was not willing. Robert had agreed to be a marriage to an English nobleman’s daughter named Elizabeth de Burgh (Florence Pugh). Robert still had a daughter from his first marriage, but his wife had passed away.
But when William Wallace is found and killed by the English crown, Robert says that the King went back on his word. There is not way to serve a King who is not worthy of trust. So Robert gathers his brothers and talks about a new Scottich rebellion. But his one will be led by a Scottish King. That King would be him, of course. Robert the Bruce meets with his main rival, John Comyn (Callan Mulvey). But he does not get Comyn’s agreement to make Robert the new King of Scotland. So, he kills him. But there are enough clans of Scotland who believe in the royal line of Bruce, that Robert is crowed King of Scotland.
The King of England and Prince of Wales begin a military campaign to destroy Robert the Bruce and all of his followers. They will fight without civility or chivalry, so that any action is acceptable. Just before the first battle, the English troops attack the nighttime camp of the Scottish army. Robert’s troops are unprepared, and many are slaughtered. They are declared ‘Outlaws’ by the English crow, and anyone helping them will be arrested or killed. Robert is on the run, an ‘Outlaw King’. His wife Elizabeth and his daughter are taken by the English and held prisoner. Robert the Bruce has few loyal warriors who are still with him.
Some of his fellow freedom fighters are Angus Macdonald (Tony Curran) and James Douglas (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Robert, along with his brother Neil (Lorne MacFadyen), run into other clans which are against him. There are clashes between the clans. Robert loses many more warriors, but he comes up with ways to fight the English intruders. The English are staying in Scottish castles and Robert needs to fight dirty. They all attack with surprise and take back, then burn, each castle.
When the new King of Scotland cannot be captured by the English, he become more famous and he attracts more fighters. Then will be a final battle of the rag-tag Scottish forces, against the fully equipped and much larger English army. With English soldiers on horseback and with ‘modern’ weapons – the Price of Wales plans to crush the Scots. But The Scots have a few deadly tricks up their kilts, er, I mean sleeves…
“The Outlaw King” is very beautifully photographed look at the period after William Wallace. This movie would make a great double-feature with “Braveheart”. There is a good many brutal battle scenes that are tough to watch. The ‘Mud and Blood’ view of the fighting is close-up and is raw and wild. The acting is good from all the main characters, and the Scottish accents are fairly on target. Chris Pine is stoic and sullen, as the flawed leader of the Scots. The sense of “Ye Olde” England and Scottish countryside is very convincing. The movie drags a slight bit in the middle section, but the final battle between the two armies is a stirring, yet very disturbing, masterfully-filmed sequence.
“The Outlaw King” will have a limited release in the theaters. Then on November 9, it will be released for streaming on Netflix.