Blood. Will. Run
Running Time: 121 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: United Kingdom
Ironclad is a British indie film done on the cheap masquerading as an all-action Hollywood blockbuster. It’s a gamble that nearly pays off but it is actually let down by the storytelling element in the end.
The action takes place in thirteenth century England in the aftermath of the historic signing of the Magna Carta. After seceding power to the nobles, King John (Giamatti) goes back on his promise and engages a Danish army to win back his country. Learning of his plan, Baron Albany (Cox) hires a band of soldiers – including the irritatingly dependable Marshall (Purefoy), archer Marks (Crooke) and womaniser Beckett (Flemyng) – to defend and hold the strategically important Rochester Castle until Archbishop Langton (Dance) can make a deal with the French.
Following a shaky start – quite literally as the cameraman is comically out of sync and seems to need time to figure out exactly what he’s meant to be doing – the action is impressively brutal and fun. The problem is that after a blistering first two thirds of the film, Ironclad ambles at a painfully slow pace towards it’s climax. The action scenes become repetitious, the conversation pieces drearily monotonous and we are treated to an excruciatingly drawn out love story that made me pine for a two-dimensional rom-com romance.
Overall, the look is just right and there has obviously been a lot of hard work into getting the atmosphere, costumes and dialogue looking and sounding pretty authentic. Even Paul Giamatti comes across as the most genuine American playing a Medieval Englishman in recent years – take note Russell Crowe (practically American) and Nicholas Cage. The main exception belying the relatively modest budget is the ‘one thousand strong army’ that never looks like more than fifty poorly co-ordinated extras.
It's Got: A likeable cast, an extremely drawn out and predictable romance, quality action for the most part
It Needs: The pace to be sustained to the end, a shorter runtime, 950 more extras
A Medieval take on The Expendables that nearly exceeds it’s relatively modest budget. Fun for a while but gets monotonous and dreary as it crawls to a climax.