Ironclad (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner04/03/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 121 mins

Enjoyable, well made historical action romp with a decent script, some splendidly violent fight sequences and terrific performances from a superb ensemble cast.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jonathan English, Ironclad begins in England in 1215, with cruel King John (Paul Giamatti) swearing revenge against the barons who forced him to sign the Magna Carta. James Purefoy plays Marshall, a Templar monk who puts aside his vow of non-violence after witnessing an atrocity committed on the King's orders and narrowly escaping with his life.

Pressed into service by Archbishop Langton (Charles Dance), Marshall joins forces with Baron Albany (Brian Cox) and together they recruit the time-honoured rag-tag team of warriors (including Jason Flemyng, Mackenzie Crook and Jamie Foreman) and take control of Rochester Castle, a pivotal stronghold vital to the King's interests. As the King and his men lay siege to the castle, Albany clashes with castle-owning Lord Cornhill (Derek Jacobi) while Marshall finds his vow of chastity tested by the presence of sexy Lady Isabel (Kate Mara).

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Giamatti who's clearly having a whale of a time and relishes every line as the deliciously evil King John. Similarly, Purefoy puts his wealth of sword movie experience to good use and is solidly convincing as Marshall, while there's colourful support from the likes of Crook, Foreman and Flemyng and Cox runs Giamatti a close second in the scenery-chewing department.

The little-told story (one of the longest sieges in British history, it says here) is genuinely fascinating and the script's attention to real life grisly detail (look away when the pigs show up) is extremely impressive. In addition, the fight scenes manage to be extremely violent without going over the top on the gore aspects, though, that said, there are several not-for-the-squeamish moments, such as someone having their tongue cut out or a bit where someone is beaten to death with a severed arm.

The Bad
That's not to say the film is without problems - for one thing, having displayed a lusty appetite for violent action sequences it's remarkably subdued when it comes to sex scenes, so the love story between Marshall and Lady Isabel is by turns underwritten, unconvincing and unintentionally laughable. It's also around twenty minutes too long and drags a little in the middle section.

Worth seeing?
Despite a few wobbles, Ironclad is a lot of fun, thanks to strong direction, nicely staged medieval fight scenes and superb performances. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

Ironclad (15)
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Content updated: 20/07/2018 08:06

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