Robert The Bruce
review by Bobby Blakey
In 1995 Mel Gibson took on double duty in front and behind the camera for the award winning film Braveheart also starring Angus Macfadyen. Now Macfadyen is returning to the role for the film Robert The Bruce that picks up in the historical timeline after Braveheart. Could this film offer up anything worthy of its predecessor or will it be a feudal fight that’s not worthy of the history its based on?
Robert The Bruce follows Robert the Bruce, a member of the nobility who failed to support William Wallace’s rebellion at a critical time who crowns himself King and takes the cause of Scotland’s freedom as his own. But he cannot overcome England’s power. Defeated again and again, his army scatters, Scotland’s nobility abandons him, and The King of England places a price on his head. He finds himself alone, wounded and hunted by the very soldiers he once led. But when he is discovered by a precocious eleven-year-old whose father died fighting alongside him, both his life and Scotland’s history are changed forever. This boy, his mother, and two orphans who share a small croft save the Bruce’s life and nurse him back to health. He becomes a part of their unique family – and they become the first soldiers in his new army - as he sets out to claim the long-awaited freedom of Scotland.
I love Braveheart so when I heard there was a spin-off film coming out of course I was interested. Unlike a lot of films like these while it isn’t a direct sequel in regards of the studio it is one that stays connected via its stars past with the character and the history itself. To my surprise the film is pretty good and works as a decent follow up to the history, but does have its issues. First and foremost is the pacing as it felt like it limped along for a while as it tried to set it all up. Sadly it felt like there was not a lot happening in the ways of telling the story other than trying to over explain just to set up an action piece. Had they trimmed it down a bit to get to the story element that seems to want us more invested it would have worked a lot better.
That being said, it still works to further the journey with Robert the Bruce as he continues his fight for Scotland. Clearly Macfadyen has a passion for this role and is great in the film. He serves double duty also writing the film and I have heard that he wrote it like twelve years ago so clearly is a passion project that finally was realized. The action that is here is decent enough but not breaking down any barriers in the genre. It also never felt quite as big as Braveheart, but not sure it was meant to. The focus on him staying with this family is the heart of the film and offers up most of the best moments.
Interestingly enough you do not have to see Braveheart to dive right into this film, but thanks to Macfadyen’s work in both films serves as a continuing piece to make the story that much bigger. If you were a fan of Braveheart, Macfadyen or just this genre then decide for yourself and return to the fight for Scotland with Robert The Bruce available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Screen Media.