davidehrlich’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Friends, join us: We have a spectacle!” So Edward I of England bellows in the extraordinary first shot of David Mackenzie’s “Outlaw King,” and he isn’t kidding. Over the course of one fluid motion, the camera tracks from inside a musty tent — where Robert the Bruce (a gray-bearded Chris Pine) is renouncing his claim to the throne and joining the other prominent lords of Scotland in pledging reluctant fealty to the hegemonic English sovereign — and out onto the muddy field beyond, where the largest catapult ever constructed is waiting to hurl a flaming metal boulder at a distant castle. Somewhere along the way, we’re also introduced to the Prince of England (an eminently hatable Billy Howle), and given ample opportunity to appreciate his demented bowl cut.
In the span of roughly 10 minutes, “Outlaw King” establishes that Scotland has been cowered to its knees, that its rightful heir has been reduced to a drunken lout, and that the country’s future now lies in the hands of a cruel invader and his psychotic son. It’s only after that first cut that Mackenzie loses track of time and the film begins to fall apart.