Outlaw King review – Chris Pine fronts up for some macho medieval bombast

David Mackenzie’s follow-up to Hell or High Water gives us screams, scowls and rolling vistas – but precious little depth

Only the manliest of men make the cut for David Mackenzie’s films. The director recently trained his camera on hardened prison inmates for Starred Up and cud-chewing cowpokes in the Academy-feted Hell or High Water, two perspectives on the responsibilities and sacrifices that life thrusts on guys’ guys making their way in the world. So he’s right at home in the medieval era, where the warriors wear stony faces caked with blood and grime.

Mackenzie tackles his homeland’s early 14th-century origins for Outlaw King, a massive-scale account of nobleman-turned-King of Scots Robert the Bruce’s quest to restore sovereignty and freedom to his subjects. He and his countrymen’s efforts to beat back the English goliath tread the same battle lines as everything from Braveheart to 300, but that’s hardly a problem for a director who excels at massaging detail into stock narratives. Yet his fixation on the proving grounds of manhood has curdled into something blande and simple here, and occasionally veers into the unintentionally silly. When Mackenzie unveils the full-frontal form of his lead actor while bathing in a stream, it feels a bit like he’s trying to prove something.

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