Netflix showcased a handful of awards season hopefuls this year at various film festivals. They had a very big showing at the Toronto International Film Festival recently, which amounted to high praise for movies such as Roma and 22 July. However, director David Mackenzie's Scottish epic Outlaw King wasn't so lucky as the movie was met with a very poor response from critics at the festival. As a result, Mackenzie has decided to revisit the movie in the editing room, cutting a significant amount of footage in the hopes of improving upon his passion project. Mackenzie said he knew things weren't right during the screening at TIFF.
"I could feel what the audience was like in the theater. I'm sensitive to the way they felt."
Outlaw King tells the story of Scottish king Robert the Bruce, played by Chris Pine, the successor to William Wallace of Braveheart fame. However, Mel Gibson's movie is notoriously inaccurate. Mackenzie is going for a much more authentic take. Robert the Bruce takes a serious journey from defeated nobleman to outlaw hero in medieval Scotland. Robert manages to seize the Scottish crown and rallies a group of men to fight back against the mighty army of the tyrannical King Edward I and his son, the Prince of Wales.
The director says there wasn't pressure from Netflix. Rather, it was his decision. Mackenzie was back editing Outlaw King a mere three days after its debut at TIFF. As a result, a full 20 minutes has been cut from its runtime, leaving a much more lean 117-minute movie. According to Mackenzie, some full sequences that weren't helping the story were cut and some minor characters were axed entirely. None of what was cut played a significant part in the narrative. One thing that stayed in the movie is Chris Pine's short but much-discussed full-frontal nudity scene. Mackenzie had this to say about it.
"I can't understand why people get worked about that. I made ten films and most of them had male frontal nudity; it's a bathing scene and people do tend to get out of the bath without clothes."
David Mackenzie had to rush the 137-minute cut of the movie to TIFF and he was aware it wasn't quite where it needed to be at the time. Unfortunately, that resulted in a poor first wave of responses. Outlaw king currently sits at a 41 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 22 reviews counted. Mackenzie is encouraging those who have already seen it to give this new cut another shot.
"It's worth another look, and I encourage critics who saw it and didn't connect with it to see it again. It has a different sense since it's under two hours, but it's still very much an epic."
This serves as the filmmaker's follow-up to Hell or High Water, which was one of the most acclaimed movies of 2016. Hopefully, this new cut managed to do the trick. Outlaw King will screen its new cut at the London Film Festival on October 17 ahead of its debut on Netflix, which is set for November 9. This news was first reported by Deadline.