Mel Gibson directs himself and a cheeky cast
in a terrific tale of Scottish heroics
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Reviewed by John Orr
I enjoyed this film quite a bit, with some reservations.
But I liked it enough to sit through the entire film, non-stop, even though the air-conditioning was NOT working at the Century 16 in Mountain View, and we could have baked cookies in the auditorium while watching Mel Gibson slice and dice his way through English soldiers.
(A note to anyone who might be interested at the Century Theaters: When your air-conditioning stops during the middle of a heat wave, you TELL your patrons ahead of time if at all possible, BEFORE the movie. If you can't do that before the movie, have people waiting outside the movie to APOLOGIZE and offer free tickets for sometime when you can operate your building's systems properly. You don't make your patrons have to go find the manager and complain directly before you do that. People spend a LOT of money at your over-priced facilities; you would do well to treat them as if you cared.)
Where was I??
Oh yeah!! "Braveheart"!! So ... it was a nice story, full or romance and heroism, compellingly told. The kid who played Mel as a boy was excellent, as was Mel himself, as Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace.
Other fine performances from Catherine McCormick as Wallace's spouse, Patrick McGoohan as King Edward and Sophie Marceau as the Princess of Wales. And many others.
A lot of the reviews have made mention of the blood and gore, but really, there wasn't that much. Sure, a number of limbs are chopped off, but in a 1950s-film-kind-of-way. That is, very neatly, with hardly any blood. A couple of throats are fatally slit, but have about as much blood as a playground scratch, though the victim's heads fall over, peacefully dead. The only blood we see is splattered on Mel's face, or dripping on his hands or swords. And yeah, a few smashed and bloody skulls.
But, really, not much blood at all, given the gory ways people killed each other in those days.
Not that realism is the issue. Story-telling is the issue, and this is good story telling.
I read a review elsewhere complaining that Mel was too old for this role, historically speaking. I don't care. He was heroic, which is what the role called for, movie-wise. The review also complained that the movie was not historically accurate. Again, I don't care. If historical accuracy wasn't important to Shakespeare, why should it be important to Mel Gibson? And that review also accused the film of being homophobic, which is kind of silly. True, there are a couple of men who are gay in the film, and they are not heroes; they are on the bad-guy side. But so what? Lots of straight bad guys, too, in this film. It was an equal-opportunity film for bad guys.