- Genre: Drama
- Cert: 16
- Details: UK/US / 121mins .
- Release Date: 04/03/2011
In 1215 a baronial revolt forces the tyrannical King John (Giamatti) to sign the Magna Carta, a document that upholds the rights of free men. In return, the barons - rallied by Albany (Cox) - allow John to remain on the throne. However, within months of the declaration John has reneged on his promise and plunders his way through England, killing all the barons that led the rebellion. In Yul Brynner style, Albany rounds up a handful of men to take the castle of Rochester, a strategically perfect garrison, until relief comes in the shape of the invading French army. But will the resistance survive the onslaught of John's army?
This medieval take on The Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven (with a little Saving Private Ryan thrown in for safe measure) can be quite shocking at times in its depiction of violence. Director Jonathan English isn't shy about cutting the tongues of priests or beating men to death with severed arms or using the wounded as catapult fodder. At one point, a soldier is almost severed in half from the shoulder down. The blood, of course, splatters across the screen.
Violence it has, but story it hasn't. Based on true events, the plot of Ironclad is sadly one-note. Holed up inside a castle while it's bombarded from afar, this romp does not have much to offer once you get past the (quite impressive) action sequences. The characters - made up of a blustery Brian Cox, Mackenzie Crook doing his best Legolas, Jason Flemyng chasing anything in a skirt, and Jamie Forman, who is asked to do nothing more than give a dirty laugh - don't have enough going on to pique interest and the have nothing significant to say. There is a minor love story between Kate Mara's baroness and James Purefoy's ex Knight Templar, who is an action hero in the making with this near-mute role, but we're not given enough to care.
Giamatti is fun as the most evil king to reach the screen since Patrick McGoohan's Longshanks in Braveheart. Always threatening to go completely over the top but reining it in, Giamatti finally gives into the temptation to go all out before the close. Still, even as he rants and raves and stomps around, Giamatti is still able to let his superior talent shine through.
Review by Gavin Burke | 09:00 | Friday 4th March 2011 | Movie Review
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