A young Scottish boy in the 13th Century is mentally scarred by the sight of dozens of his kinsmen slain and hanged. He is too young to fight the English, for it is those villainous scoundrels that are to blame, and when his father and brother do not return from battle he is sent to live with his scarred uncle Argyle (Brian Cox). Taught to use his brain before his sword, he grows up to become Mel Gibson, returns to his home village and falls in love, only for those Anglo-Saxon bastards to kill her too. Understandably, this sends Gibson’s William Wallace into a bit of a tizzy, so he sets about raising an army to thwart the tea-drinking tossers and their leader, evil Edward I. I’m no historian, but to say the film is blinkered by a love for the Celts is no exaggeration, with us Englanders shown creating laws where it is fine for us to sleep with a Scotsman’s wife on her wedding night, and banning the kilt-wearing types from brandishing so much as a stick. I’m not saying this didn’t happen, and I’m not going to burn any calories finding out, but I’m going to assume that something from the mind from Gibson can be taken with a rather hefty pinch of salt.
That being said, Gibbo gives good as the rabble rouser, hinting at the madness (and mullet) of Lethal Weapon, with an imposing presence and questionable accent. Much too can be said of Gibson the director and producer – roles for which he took home the Best Director and Best Picture Oscars in 1996. With an eye for locations and an ear for mixing the comic with the tragic, this is a well balanced film. Some of the fights and chases feel a little clunky, and the many brutal deaths – throats slit, fence post impalings, gouged eyes and mutilated horses – seem a tad gratuitous at times.
Choose film 7/10

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