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The Bruce Review

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The events leading up to the historic battle of Bannockburn are brought to us squarely from the viewpoint of Robert The Bruce (Sandy Welch).

★★★★

Too much of anything, good or otherwise, is never advisable, and with the arrival of yet another historical Scottish epic the resulting bloated sensation is quite possibly the movie equivalent of eating three dozen haggis. And even without the shadow of Braveheart, this is a flat, half-baked fling at the events leading up to the historic battle of Bannockburn, seen squarely from the viewpoint of Robert The Bruce (Sandy Welch).

Alarm bells begin ringing when the mysterious Van Wijk is revealed to be none other than Wolf from TV's Gladiators who, needless to say, imbues the role of trusty knight Henry De Bohun with the class of a born bodybuilder. Reed mostly mumbles and grumbles, waxing lyrical about the tenacity of a spider, and offering fatherly/pastoral advice as Bishop Wisharton to Welch's frankly uninspiring claimant to the Scottish throne. As Edward I, Blessed alone brings some colour to proceedings, although his performance strays dangerously close to his Zoltan in Flash Gordon when he realises the Bruce is still alive.

As ever, whopping great liberties are taken with historical fact - the Bruce is conveyed as the one beacon of steadfast loyalty to the cause, surrounded by a sea of power-hungry back-stabbers - but the real let-down concerns the battle scenes. Lacklustre and unimpressive, they fail to capture either the colossal forces amassed for death or glory, or the brutal, personal violence of individual combat, and for the most part are unconvincing and downright laughable. The Bruce merely serves as one more reminder of just how great an achievement Gibbo's statue-hauling epic really was.

The Bruce merely serves as one more reminder of just how great an achievement Gibbo's statue-hauling epic really was.