Outlaw King

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Outlaw King
Promotional poster
Directed byDavid Mackenzie
Produced by
Written by
Music byGrey Dogs
CinematographyBarry Ackroyd
Edited byJake Roberts
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • September 6, 2018 (2018-09-06) (TIFF)
  • November 9, 2018 (2018-11-09) (United States)
Running time
121 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$120 million[1]

Outlaw King is a 2018 historical action drama film about Robert the Bruce, the 14th-century Scottish King who launched a guerilla war against the larger English army. The film largely takes place during the 3-year historical period from 1304, when Bruce decides to rebel against the rule of Edward I over Scotland, thus becoming an "outlaw", up to the 1307 Battle of Loudoun Hill. Outlaw King was co-written, produced, and directed by David Mackenzie.[2][3][4] It stars Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh, Billy Howle, Sam Spruell, Tony Curran, Callan Mulvey, James Cosmo, and Stephen Dillane.

It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2018, and was released on November 9, 2018, by Netflix.


In the year 1304, outside the besieged Stirling Castle, John Comyn, Robert Bruce, and other Scottish nobility surrender to Edward I of England. King Edward promises to return lands to the nobility in exchange for their homage. After the formalities have ended, Bruce spars with Edward's heir, the Prince of Wales, and the King weds Bruce to his goddaughter, Elizabeth de Burgh. James Douglas arrives to ask for the restoration of his ancestral lands but is dismissed by Edward, on the basis of the previous Lord Douglas's treason. The King and the Prince depart from Scotland, leaving its management to Comyn and Bruce, under the supervision of the Earl of Pembroke, Aymer de Valence. Elizabeth arrives to marry Bruce. On the wedding night, he respects his reluctant wife's wishes and delays the consummation. Bruce witnesses Englishmen conscripting his servants to the King's army. Not long after, his father, the Lord of Annandale, passes away, lamenting the loss of his friendship with the King of England, while admitting it may have been a mistake to trust Edward.

Two years later, after collecting taxes, Bruce notes how unpopular the English are. There is rioting after the public display of the quartered body of William Wallace, which spurs Bruce to plan another revolt. He discusses the issue with his family, who agree with him. Bruce tries to persuade John Comyn to join him, but the latter refuses and threatens to inform Edward about the plan. In a panic, Bruce stabs Comyn to death. The incident compels the clergy of Scotland to offer a pardon to Bruce, bargaining that he supports the Catholic Church in Scotland and he accepts the Crown of Scotland. Bruce accepts the deal, but King Edward soon hears of it. He declares Bruce an outlaw and, at his son's request, sends the Prince of Wales to crush the uprising, under the dragon banner, symbolizing the abandonment of chivalry and representing King Edward's order that no quarter to be shown to any supporter of Bruce.

Bruce calls a council of the nobles, where most refuse to break their oaths to Edward. Despite the lack of expected support, Bruce heads to Scone, where he is to be crowned. On the road, he encounters Douglas, who pledges his allegiance if Robert will help Douglas reclaim his birthright. In Scone, Bruce is crowned king of Scots. The ambitious de Valence decides to move against Bruce before the Prince arrives. Bruce wishes to avoid bloodshed and challenges de Valence to single combat. De Valence accepts but insists on delaying the duel a day, as it is Sunday. During the night, at Methven, Bruce finally consummates his marriage, but the English launch a surprise attack. Bruce sends his wife and Marjorie Bruce, to safety with his brother Nigel, and stays to fight a losing battle, during which most of the Scottish army is killed. Bruce escapes with fifty men. The group takes Angus' advice and flees to Islay. While traveling there, John MacDougall parleys with them. He is bitter about the murder of his cousin Comyn but allows the army to pass but later attacks Bruce's entourage as they're trying to cross Loch Ryan. Some of them get away in boats, but they cannot prevent the death of Robert the Bruce's brother Alexander.

Prince Edward arrives in Scotland and searches for Bruce at Kildrummy Castle, only to find Bruce's wife, daughter, and brother. The sadistic prince has his brother hanged and drawn, and has Bruce's daughter and wife taken to England. Bruce's company meets up with Lord Mackinnon, who refuses to lend them any men. The band presses on with their voyage to Islay anyway; there, they learn of the fall of Kildrummy Castle. Bruce decides to take back the castle through stealth. The successful operation inspires Bruce to begin guerilla warfare. Shortly thereafter, Bruce is reunited with his other brother, Thomas. In England, Marjorie is separated from her stepmother Elizabeth to be given religious instruction by nuns. After Edward hears that Douglas Castle has been re-taken, he goes after Bruce himself. He offers Elizabeth a pardon if she will annul her marriage to Robert, but she refuses and is placed in a hanging cage.

The following year, King Edward dies shortly after arriving in Scotland, and the Prince of Wales takes control of his father's forces. In defiance of his father's dying wishes, he orders his late father's burial in Scotland. Bruce decides to fight the new king in a pitched battle at Loudoun Hill, despite being outnumbered six to one. Clan Mackinnon arrives to aid Bruce. Edward's army is composed almost entirely of cavalry, so Robert overcomes this army's size disadvantage by ensuring that during the battle, the English cavalry charge into a spear wall hidden by a ditch, and thus incur heavy losses. Many horsemen attempt to attack the flanks but become bogged down in the mud, just as the Scots anticipated. As the English knights fall from their horses, many are slain, and the battle becomes an open brawl, wherein the ferocious Scots prevail over the disoriented English soldiers. Realising the battle is hopeless, de Valence orders a retreat. However, determined to kill his nemesis, Edward does not join the retreat. Instead, he engages in a duel with Bruce as the Scots look on. Although Bruce prevails, he allows Edward to leave unharmed. The epilogue reveals that Elizabeth was released as a part of a hostage exchange. The Prince of Wales was crowned King Edward II, only to be killed by his own lords. Three hundred years later, Robert's descendant unified the crowns of England and Scotland.



Principal photography began on 28 August 2017 on location in both Scotland and England. Filming took place in various locations including Linlithgow Palace & Loch, and St Michael's Parish Church,[13] Borthwick Castle, Doune Castle, Craigmillar Castle,[10][14] Dunfermline Abbey,[15] Glasgow Cathedral,[16] Muiravonside Country Park, Mugdock Country Park,[17][18] Aviemore, Isle of Skye (Talisker Bay, Coral Beaches and Loch Dunvegan), Glen Coe, Loch Lomond, Gargunnock, University of Glasgow,[19] Blackness Castle,[20] Seacliff Beach and Berwick-upon-Tweed[21] and Tweedmouth (the latter two both in Northumberland - Berwick-upon-Tweed's bridge doubling for London Bridge). Principal production concluded in November 2017.[22]


The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2018.[23] The premiere's runtime of 137 minutes and its pacing were criticised in early reviews, and Mackenzie subsequently cut nearly 20 minutes from the film.[22] Cut material includes a battle scene, a major confrontation backdropped by a waterfall, an eight-minute chase sequence, and a scene in which Pine’s character meets William Wallace in the woods.[24][25] The film had its European premiere at the London Film Festival in October 2018[26] and was commercially released on November 9, 2018.[27]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval of 62% based on 146 reviews, and an average rating of 6.18/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Muddy and bloody to a fault, Outlaw King doesn't skimp on the medieval battle scenes, but tends to lose track of the fact-based legend at the heart of its story."[28] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 59 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[29]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
Visual Effects Society Awards February 5, 2019 Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature Alex Bicknell, Dan Bethell, Greg O’Connor, Stefano Pepin Nominated [30]

Historical authenticity[edit]

The film's depiction of the Battle of Loudoun Hill takes many liberties.
The real Battle of Loudoun Hill

The film implies that Robert began his rebellion almost immediately after the execution of William Wallace, implying that he intended to avenge Wallace, but in reality, he began his rebellion an entire year after Wallace's death. During that time Edward I became suspicious of Bruce and ordered him to stay at the Kildrummy Castle.[31]

In the film, Bruce marries Elizabeth after surrendering to Edward I; in reality Bruce's second marriage had occurred years before (in 1302). The film also depicts the Battle of Methven as a result of de Valence's treachery, but the historical outcome was Bruce's own fault for not predicting de Valence's loyalty to the English.[31]

The film portrays Edward II in the Battle of Loudoun Hill as heavily flawed; in reality it's unlikely that he would have been present in the first place. Moreover, it's certain that he wouldn't have challenged Bruce to a single combat. But even if he had been there and challenged Bruce to a personal combat, such a valuable hostage as Edward II would not have been allowed to flee.[31]

The character of Bruce in Outlaw King is that of an enigmatic and well-behaved man of the people, who desires to restore Scotland to its citizens. However, historian Fiona Watson notes the real Bruce was most likely cold, canny, and driven by his personal ambition.[32]

The color yellow is mostly absent from shirts of the fighting men in the film's battlefield, but historically, yellow dye was not only the most common dye in Scotland but it was highly favored by the fighters who could afford it as well. Historian Fergus Cannan notes that while many historical writers comment on its prevalence, it never makes appearances in popular culture related to Scottish history.[33]

The film depicts the character of Edward II as a cruel and oppressive person who is eager to succeed his father, when there is no evidence of Edward II's having displayed such traits. On the contrary, Edward II was reluctant to assume the mantle of kingship and was known to be generous with his servants.[33]

The film depicts Edward I as dying before the battle of Loudoun Hill when, in fact, he died some months later. Additionally, the film implies that Edward I was buried where he died when, in fact, he was interred at Westminster Abbey in London.

When Robert tells his brothers in the film about his plan to start a rebellion, artichokes can be seen on the table. However, artichokes were only introduced to the British Isles in the 16th century.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lambrechts, Stephen (August 21, 2018). "Netflix goes full Braveheart with first trailer for historical epic, Outlaw King". TechRadar. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  2. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (24 April 2017). "Netflix Lands Outlaw King". Deadline. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  3. ^ "First Look At Chris Pine In David Mackenzie's 'Outlaw King'". Playlist. 8 September 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  4. ^ "New Netflix drama Outlaw King boosts film sector". BBC. 11 December 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  5. ^ Fleming Jri, Mike (27 July 2017). "Aaron Taylor-Johnson Plays Scottish hero James Douglas". Deadline. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  6. ^ Fleming Jri, Mike (7 August 2017). "Florence Pugh Nabs Lead in Netflix's 'Outlaw King'". Deadline. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  7. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (18 August 2017). "David Mackenzie's 'Outlaw King' Adds Billy Howle". Deadline. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Tony Curran on Twitter". Twitter. 31 July 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Alastair McKenzie seen filming Netflix film Outlaw King". Mail Online. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  10. ^ a b "From Star Trek to Scotland! Chris Pine dons chain mail armour and rides on horseback as he films Netflix period drama Outlaw King with James Cosmo". Mail Online. 2 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Film News Roundup: Callan Mulvey Joins Chris Pine's Scottish Drama 'Outlaw King'". Variety. 7 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Steven Cree on Twitter". Twitter. 11 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Palace reopens after being set for new Netflix production". Daily Record. 2 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  14. ^ "Outlaw King Filming Location Spotlight: Craigmillar Castle Edinburgh". Wayfaring Kiwi. 2018-10-23. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  15. ^ "Cameras arrive in Dunfermline for new Netflix film on Robert the Bruce". Dunfermline Press. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Outlaw King film star Chris Pine spotted at Glasgow Cathedral". HeraldScotland. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Outlaw King film crew build medieval village around Mugdock Castle". The Scotsman. 26 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  18. ^ "Chris Pine gives special salute to photographers during filming of new Robert the Bruce Netflix show". Daily Reocord. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  19. ^ Aitchison, Jack (18 November 2017). "Outlaw King films at Glasgow Uni as campus transforms into medieval banquet hall". dailyrecord. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  20. ^ Grant, Jackie (26 November 2017). "Outlaw King stars brave Scottish cold snap during filming of Robert the Bruce Netflix drama". dailyrecord. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  21. ^ "Berwick transformed as Outlaw King filming begins". The Scotsman. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  22. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (23 September 2018). "'Outlaw King' Filmmaker David Mackenzie Trims Netflix Epic By 20 Minutes Post Toronto Premiere".
  23. ^ Erbland, Kate (14 August 2018). "TIFF Announces Chris Pine-Starring 'Outlaw King' Will Open Festival and Kristen Stewart's 'Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy' to Close". IndieWire. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  24. ^ Ehrlich, David; Ehrlich, David (8 November 2018). "How David Mackenzie Salvaged 'Outlaw King' After the Netflix Oscar Hopeful Crashed and Burned".
  25. ^ TIFF 2018: David Mackenzie’s Bloody Epic Outlaw King
  26. ^ "62nd BFI London Film Festival programme announced". BFI. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  27. ^ Kroll, Justin (30 July 2018). "Florence Pugh Lands Female Lead in 'Hereditary' Director Ari Aster's Next Film". Variety. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  28. ^ "Outlaw King (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  29. ^ "Outlaw King reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  30. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (15 January 2019). "'Avengers,' 'Lost in Space,' 'Ready Player One' Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations". Variety.
  31. ^ a b c "How Historically Accurate is the Outlaw King?". Dailyhistory. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  32. ^ Finlay, Greig. "What 'Outlaw King' gets wrong - according to a historian". Scotsman.com. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  33. ^ a b Carlton, Genevieve. "Everything 'Outlaw King' Gets Wrong About History And Robert The Bruce". Ranker. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  34. ^ Wheaton, Barbara Ketcham (1983). Savouring the Past. New York: Touchstone Books. pp. 66–67.

External links[edit]