Your weekly streaming pick is currently on Netflix. Outlaw King is a Netflix exclusive. Pretty soon the stigma of direct to streaming movies will be gone.
Receiving wide acclaim at various film festivals Netflix obtained the distribution rights. This is great to reach a wider audience but doesn’t do the movie itself much service. A project of this scope would have been very well served on the silver (gray, concave) screen.
Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) receives a pardon from King Edward the First (Stephen Dillane). The events pardoned take place in another massive Hollywood feature. Robert tries to toe the line though he hasn’t changed his values. Arranged marriage sets Robert up with the strong willed Florence Pugh (Elizabeth Burgh).
Continuing injustices by England forces Robert to do what he believes is best for his people. Robert the Bruce mounts a near impossible rebellion with the support of his countrymen.
The scale of this movie is what makes it perfect for the big screen. Sweeping shots of beautiful and realistic sets punctuate authentic shots of gorgeous Scotland. It’s clear by the uniqueness of the country and the feel of the shots that this movie was, in fact, shot on site.
The first ten minutes of the movie set the scope. A continuous tracking shot offers a glimpse at the talent, breathtaking scenery, and scale that captures an era. Every last detail in the look and feel of the movie receive intricate attention.
The picture is crystal clear. Despite the bleak weather and dirty period the entirety of the visuals are gorgeous. Writer/Director David Mackenzie has some great titles on his IMDB page. The one that stands out is 2016’s underrated heist movie Hell or High Water. Outlaw King is a much larger scale movie than Mackenzie’s other work. A few ‘Hollywood’ type moments aside, Outlaw King is a clear sign Mackenzie can handle scale.
Outlaw King is currently streaming on Netflix
The ‘Hollywood’ moments are the standard fare for historical-fiction-action-bio-dramas. There are moments of predictable dialogue to illicit a certain audience response. Standard royalties are taken with facts and timing to move the plot along. The message, meaning, and broad strokes remain intact enough. Enough that you receive the broad strokes while still being entertained.
Chris Pine is definitely the star power this movie was sold on. Pine does a great job showing he can morph into a role. Furthermore it shows he can carry a movie that isn’t a tentpole or a franchise. A halfway decent performance by Aaron Taylor-Johnson could be a close second but Johnson was given a lot of the more Hollywood-esque type lines that will take you out of the movie from time to time.
One actor I had no previous knowledge of was Florence Pugh. Pugh wasn’t given a ton of screen time but she was given some great material to make her performance memorable. Her confident approach to shooting down some of the male characters around her may feel like pandering to a modern world but even the briefest time spent on google will show Elizabeth Burgh was a strong woman who wasn’t content with taking a back seat in history.
Outlaw King is not without its flaws. These flaws shouldn’t stop you from enjoying what is a good movie, with great visuals. It’s not a documentary but there is a history lesson disguised inside.