I was in the audience when Outlaw King premiered at TIFF. I don’t feel bad admitting I didn’t care for it. Director David Mackenzie himself was unsatisfied; he likened the feeling of losing the audience’s interest at such a high-profile festival to the air being sucked out of a room. With Netflix’s blessing, Mackenzie made a beeline for the editing room. He shaved 23 minutes off the runtime, and tightened up the film’s pace. He feels much happier with the cut currently streaming on Netflix, the only cut the world will ever know, and because I like and respect Mackenzie so much, I decided I could find it within myself to give it another try.
If you read my first review from TIFF, then you know how big a sacrifice this was for me. I sound punch drunk in that one, and I was, dizzy with all the horse slaughter, for one. There were so many dead horses that I made a deal with Sean when we turned this on (he didn’t see it with me at TIFF): if he could accurately count all the murdered horses, I would murder him with a blow job. And that is not an empty promise. I once put the poor kid in a coma with an ordinary handie.
Anyway, is Outlaw Kind new & improved? It is. It is still an unapologetically brutal movie. Having seen 50 or so movies at TIFF and maybe twice that since, I didn’t expect to remember this 2.5 hour movie frame for frame, and indeed I did not, but I could point out several differences as we watched. Mackenzie launches us into the action much more quickly, almost directly after that impressive opening 8-minute shot that everyone’s talking about.
I still think it’s a little hokey that Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) is repeatedly shown to be a kind and considerate lover. In a movie where historical accuracy seems to be prized, it’s odd that Robert is so insistently shown to be a gentle husband, and his wife Elizabeth (Florence Pugh) to be so headstrong and plucky. Not exactly the hallmarks of a woman who has been given as chattel from the conquering king as to the defeated one, in appeasement. Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s still pretty great though, crazed and demented. I remember feeling bad for him the first time; Chris Pine is evidently this movie’s heartthrob as he is always clean and probably period-inappropriately hygienic whereas poor Taylor-Johnson is constantly covered in mud (god I hope it’s mud, especially given the number of dead horses) and his teeth, oh lord, his teeth, smeared in god knows what. Horse shit isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. And speaking of Johnsons, you have no doubt heard that Pine’s is on full display in this movie. True. It is also a true and turgid fact that Taylor-Johnson’s is a hell of a lot more visible in A Million Little Pieces, if you’re into that kind of thing. More visible in terms of length – both movie and cock wise. Not that anyone’s counting.
What else can I tell you about this movie? I noticed that this time, I chuckled in a couple of places. There is no hint of that in my first review; I was overwhelmed by the brutality and the unrelenting muck. This time I had a little more breathing room despite the fact that they’ve literally removed a lot of the breathing room. I am proud of myself for making it through this one twice. My brother-in-law Chris liked this movie. Sean liked this movie. And in the end, he’d totaled 71.