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This sort-of-but-not-quite sequel to Braveheart stars Angus Macfadyen as the titular medieval Scottish king, a role he played in Mel Gibson’s 1995 film about William Wallace. Back then, Macfadyen’s Bruce was trouncing the English at the battle of Bannockburn, a decisive rout in 1314. This film rolls back the action to 1306, after the death of Wallace but with that key clash still in the future; confusingly Macfadyen’s Bruce is 20 years older here, a man in his 50s.
The story opens with Bruce slaying rival John Comyn (Jared Harris, who’s not in it nearly enough), an act that makes him an outlaw. After some jerky crosscutting and considerable longueurs, he ends up wounded and in the care of widow Morag (Anna Hutchinson, quite good) and her three children, a family hitherto more allied with the English.
Even though this was directed by Australian Richard Gray, features numerous American actors attempting Scottish accents with varying degrees of success and, most scandalous of all, was shot mostly in Montana, this is a thoughtful, well-meaning crack at historical drama. It takes a good hour or so to get going, but then it builds up some watchable spectacle – although Gray goes way overboard with the moody, fireside lighting, and the rousing orchestral score gets all ceilidh-cutesy for the happy montages. Pandering to Scottish sentimentality over this period in history, it should find its audience locally but is unlikely to reproduce Braveheart’s international success.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Robert the Bruce review – rousing return of the king of the Scots | Film