Outlaw King (2018)
A true David vs. Goliath story of how the 14th century Scottish 'Outlaw King' Robert the Bruce used cunning and bravery to defeat the much larger and better equipped occupying English army.
After being declared "Outlaw" by the occupying English Empire, Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) raises an army of Scottish fighters in rebellion. Twists and turns all across the Scottish countryside lead this film on an epic, "true to historical events", journey that captures heroism at its core!
- The film opens outside Stirling Castle in Scotland in 1304. Robert the Bruce, his rival John Comyn, and other Scottish nobility swear fealty to King Edward I of England. William Wallace, the infamous Scottish rebel, having been defeated at the Battle of Falkirk (1298) has gone into hiding and the English have won the upper hand in the fight against their northern neighbor's attempt at independence.
With no other choice, many of the Scottish lords have decided to submit once more to English rule. For his part, Robert is promised the hand of Elizabeth de Burgh - an Irish noblewoman whose father is a close friend and ally to Edward I. When one Scotsman - James Douglas - petitions the King for the return of his family's lands and titles, Edward I refuses on the grounds that his father was traitor.
As the noblemen begin to depart, Robert is challenged to a friendly duel by the English King's son Edward II whom he half-heartedly fights to a standstill before the Prince is summoned by his father and all are invited to watch as Edward I seals the treaty with the Scots by launching Greek fire at the nearby castle and telling his commanders to accept the fortress' surrender now.
Back home, Robert and his father begin to deal with the realities of their submission and Elizabeth soon arrives to officially marry Robert (who chooses not to consummate the marriage). As the months go by, Elizabeth slowly begins to warm up to Robert and his daughter Marjorie while the strain of England's rule takes its toll on the common people.
One night, Robert's father recounts stories from his youth when he fought alongside King Edward in the Crusades and, despite believing him to be a friend, ultimately regrets trusting him. Robert's father then passes away shortly afterwards, making him the new lord of Annandale.
Some time later in 1305, Robert and his retinue travel to the border city of Berwick to deliver taxes owed to England. After doing so, Robert and his men are swept up in a mob of people who've gathered in the marketplace to view the arm of William Wallace - the rebel having finally been caught and subsequently hanged, drawn, and quartered. As the mass of people begin to shout and threaten the English soldiers, violence erupts and Robert watches in horror as the English begin cutting down Scottish commoners who respond in kind.
Returning to his lands, Robert gathers together his friends and allies and shares the news of Wallace's execution and his renewed desire to cast off English rule once again - ultimately deciding to call together the Scottish nobility and make his case for a second attempt at independence. While some nobles side with him, others - namely John Comyn and those that support him - refuse.
Robert is eventually confronted by Comyn in a church and the two exchange tense words. When the latter shares his intention of informing King Edward of his plans, Robert draws Comyn's knife from his belt and stabs him in the neck - killing him at the altar.
Seeking absolution for his actions, Robert confesses the murder to the Scottish clergy who in turn offer him what he seeks in exchange for agreeing to be named King of Scotland and leading the country against the English. Robert accepts the offer and is crowned King in the village of Scone, encountering James Douglas along the way who pledges his service to Robert in exchange for the promise that his family's lands and titles will be returned to him.
Back in England, Edward I receives word of Comyn's murder and Robert's crowning - infuriating him. Unable to lead the army himself due to his deteriorating health he charges Aymer de Valence to deal with the Scots who've been sighted in force near Perth. When Prince Edward II pleads with his father to let him prove himself by killing or capturing Robert, the King reluctantly agrees and knights hundreds of men to accompany his son, ordering them to ride under the banner of a dragon - ignoring the tenants of chivalry and showing no mercy to the enemy and/or their supporters.
Robert meets with de Valence in the field and seeing his force heavily outnumbered challenges the English commander to single combat to decide the victor. De Valence accepts but tells Robert that since it's a Sunday the duel will have to take place the following day. That night, the Scots celebrate and prepare themselves for battle encamped in a nearby forest and after Robert and Elizabeth share a quiet moment they passionately consummate their marriage. Afterwards, as they put Marjorie to bed Robert makes Elizabeth promise that no matter what happens to him she will protect his daughter.
Hearing strange noises outside their tent, Robert goes to investigate and volleys of fire-arrows begin to rain down on the Scottish camp. De Valence, choosing not to hold to their agreement, has moved his forces into range and attacked under cover of darkness (Battle of Methven). As the English continue their attack and rout most of the Scots, Robert entrusts his brother Neil to escort Elizabeth and Marjorie to Kildrummy Castle and seek refuge from Lord Fraser - a friend and ally.
Despite putting up a furious resistance, Robert is pulled away from the inevitable defeat and escapes with only about fifty of his men still alive.
Beaten, bloodied, and desperate, Robert and his men aimlessly wander the Scottish countryside eventually deciding to make for the home islands of one of his allies - Angus MacDonald - in the hopes of replenishing his forces. Along the way they're intercepted by a small force from the MacDougall clan who, despite being supporters of the murdered Comyn, allow them to pass by unharmed.
Elsewhere, Neil delivers Elizabeth and Marjorie to Lord Fraser's castle - finding some respite from the quickly deteriorating situation Robert's crowning has created.
When Robert and his men come to a river, they attempt to cross only to be ambushed by the MacDougalls. In the melee, Robert's brother Alexander is impaled by a spear and his body left behind as the outlaw king's forces dwindle further. Eventually finding their way to the islands the small group of soldiers rest and recover and those who're able to pledge to join his forces.
Back on the mainland, Prince Edward II cuts a bloody path through Scotland mercilessly killing Robert's supporters and pillaging or capturing towns and villages - including Robert's own castle. When he arrives at Perth he berates de Valence for letting the outlaw escape and his ineptitude in tracking him down. Shortly after, a loyal Scottish nobleman arrives and informs the English of the whereabouts of Elizabeth and Marjorie and the Prince gathers his men to confront Lord Fraser.
Arriving at Kildrummy, the Prince commands Lord Fraser to hand over Robert's wife and daughter lest he must attack. While the lord buys some time by claiming ignorance to their whereabouts, Neil sneaks Elizabeth and Marjorie outside the walls and tells them to wait and hide in the forest until he can send men to protect them and spirit them away. After unleashing a hail of fire-arrows into the castle, Lord Fraser offers to open the gates and allow the English entry.
When both Neil and Lord Fraser continue to claim that Elizabeth and Marjorie are not there, Prince Edward II signals his men to approach to show that they've already captured them. Unhappy with their defiance, the Prince orders Neil to be hanged from the castle gates and is subsequently disemboweled in front of his wife and child. He then slits Lord Fraser's throat himself and orders Robert's wife and daughter be returned to England as hostages.
On the island, Robert is informed of Neil's execution and his family's capture. The desire for revenge burning within him, the outlaw king returns to the mainland and continues to gather resources and allies - eventually coming to the conclusion that fighting the English head-on will only result in defeat as his forces are still dwarfed by their enemy. The Scots instead launch a campaign of guerrilla-warfare, striking English fortifications in small groups and taking the enemy by surprise. After defeating the garrison at his own castle (and setting it ablaze), Robert allows James Douglas to take a handful of men to do the same at his own keep.
Douglas infiltrates his family's castle on Palm Sunday (the Douglas Larder) and during mass when most of the English garrison is praying inside the church he reveals himself and chants "Douglas!" over and over as his men proceed to brutally kill their enemies and set fire to the castle before gathering supporters to his cause and rejoining Robert.
In England, Marjorie is taken away by a nun to serve as a glorified hostage at a convent while Elizabeth's parents are brought to her and with Prince Edward II attempt to convince her to sign a document that forsakes Robert, annuls their marriage, and pardons her for her "crimes" against the crown. When Elizabeth refuses to sign it and laughs at the Prince for his continued inability to capture her husband she's thrown in a metal cage and suspended over the walls.
King Edward I meanwhile continues to become more and more aware of his frailty and failing health. When he receives word of yet another raid by Robert's forces he becomes irate and decides to muster his army and lead them into Scotland himself - intent on ending the rebellion personally just as he had when he defeated William Wallace at Falkirk almost a decade previous.
On the march; however, King Edward I faints and on his deathbed instructs his son to boil his body and carry his bones with him to every battle he fights against the Scottish. As the King succumbs to dysentery the Prince's final words to his father are not loving as he mocks him and claims that the reason why his father treated him so poorly was because he knew his son was much stronger than himself and he was afraid of that strength. Before leaving his dead father's tent, Edward II instructs his men to bury the late King's body there and now - dismissing his last request.
As the English draw closer and closer Robert decides to finally meet them in a pitched battle rather than continue to run and hide. Despite his men's uncertainty they choose to put their faith in their King and go about preparations - choosing a swampy battlefield to meet the English on and constructing large ditches filled with sharpened stakes to surprise the English heavy cavalry.
James Douglas is tasked with intercepting the Prince and offering them battle at the designated spot and the two forces meet on the field the next day: the English numbering in the thousands while Robert's army is barely above five-hundred strong (the Battle of Loudoun Hill). Eager to prove himself and secure his position as the new King of England, Edward II orders de Valence and many of his heavy cavalry to charge Robert's waiting army. Too late do the English see the traps set for them and as both horses and knights fall victim to the stake-lined pits a brutal muddy melee ensues. Even after Edward II himself enters the battle with the remainder of his men the Scots continue to cut down Englishmen and soon send them into a rout.
Once more, Robert and Edward II duel with the former emerging victorious. Battered and begging for help, Edward II is spared by Robert and allowed to retreat with what's left of his army as the Scottish King claims his first major victory against the English.
In an epilogue sequence it's revealed that Edward II would return to England and be made King only to be murdered by his nobles years later. James Douglas would go on to earn the nickname "the Black Douglas" and earn his family's lands back while Angus MacDonald would be made Lord of the Isles. Elizabeth is eventually set free in a prisoner exchange and rejoins Robert and Marjorie, and three-hundred years later one of Robert's descendants, James VI would be crowned King of Scotland and England.