Robert the Bruce is one of Scotland’s most famous icons in their entire history. Ruling as king for 26 years, Robert the Bruce led the battle that fought off the English and had Scotland’s independence truly recognised by all. In 1995, Mel Gibson directed and starred in Braveheart, the story of William Wallace, Scotland’s first hero and in which Angus Macfayden played Robert the Bruce. Twenty-five years later and Macfayden reprises the role in the story of what brought Robert the Bruce to lead his country and claim victory and freedom in the name of independence.
Picking up not long after the events of Braveheart, Scotland is in turmoil and with no rightful heir to Scotland’s throne, the fight against the English becomes more desperate than ever. After a confrontation with John Comyn (Jarred Harris), Robert flees and is instantly decried as an outlaw, so with both the English and the Scottish all eager to claim the bounty on his head, Robert the Bruce goes into hiding until a kind family takes him in.
Robert the Bruce is clearly a passion project for Angus Macfayden who not only stars, but co-wrote the screenplay and after the huge success of Braveheart it is indeed good to see a true Scot play one of Scotland’s finest heroes. However, for those who are expecting the story to pick up and show exactly what made Robert the Bruce such a great man and what made the Scottish people stand by him to reclaim the independence in the face of the English – they may be waiting a while.
While the movie is indeed about Robert the Bruce, it feels like there has been an attempt at showing what his presence means to his people. This means that the audience are introduced to a family as Robert the Bruce hides in huts and bushes to evade capture. Unfortunately, the attempt at trying to ingratiate the audience with this family is not all that successful as most of them would have wanted to see more of the titular character.
Therefore, when he is found by the family and the majority of them proudly take them in to tend to his wounds, for those unfamiliar with his story they may be wondering why the family’s reaction is so strong and yet so divided.
This leads to the second half of the movie where the family gets to know Robert and vice versa, but yet it still seems that an opportunity has been wasted in the script to show exactly why they would so happily follow the great man into battle.
Robert the Bruce is beautifully shot though, with another location standing in suitably for Scottish landscape, although even then it would have been good to see more variety as even though it snows a lot in Scotland, I wouldn’t imagine there would be so much settled for such a long time.
Robert the Bruce misses so many opportunities and it seems that a lot of that lies in the restraints of the budget. The costumes look wonderful, the Scottish accents are mostly ok and when it comes down to showing what would be the climax, the budget really can’t handle it so it leaves the audience feeling like they were left out of the bigger picture.
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