Chris Pine stars as 14th century Scottish rebel Robert The Bruce in the new Netflix original film Outlaw King. The story follows Robert’s role in the fight for Scottish independence in the wake of an upheaval in the hierarchy of that country.
He leads his people in a fight against the numeric superiority of the English, who they claim are usurpers in their country. Bruce’s story, though, is much more complex, taking him from reluctant warrior to exile to king.
The movie, the poster tells us, is “Based on the untold true story” but doesn’t feature any context as to what that story might be. Instead we just see Pine as Bruce standing stoically in his armor looking slightly away from the camera.
As the first trailer opens Robert is considering revenge while we see soldiers back home questioning his wife and family as to his whereabouts. That search is happening because Robert is out to unite Scotland and the authorities aren’t a fan of that plan, condemning him to death as soon as he’s found. Robert keeps his makeshift army going, though, mounting small attacks on British castles one by one to weaken their resolve instead of trying to face down the massive opposing force.
The second trailer makes it a bit more clear that we’re focusing on Robert’s time in exile and his fight to reclaim his homeland and free his people. The overwhelming odds he and his allies face is something mentioned repeatedly as we’re sold a story that seems very similar to Braveheart, largely because it happens at about the same time.
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A first-look still of Pine in character provided the kickoff for the publicity effort following the news the project was greenlit by Netflix.
The buzz around the movie quickly began to focus on a full frontal nude scene featuring Pine, something he expressed surprise at given the high body count and graphic nature of violence on display. Meanwhile the producers and filmmakers praised Netflix for having the courage to make the movie and giving them the freedom to do so.
Mackenzie reportedly cut 20 minutes from the film between Toronto and its later screening at the London Film Festival in response to some of the feedback from critics and others.
I know the Braveheart comparison is a lazy one, but it’s still relevant given the parallel nature of the stories in that movie and this one. Pine looks like he’s just as charming as he usually is in the role of Robert the Bruce, but the nature of what’s happening is a bit muddled at times. That might just be because the movie is too big to encapsulate in a couple short trailers. Whatever the case, there’s some good stuff here but not enough to really sell this as an epic history.