I don’t think you will hear me say this very often but I must say it this time: This movie was way too gory for me. That bothered me more than the liberties that were taken with history. Or, to be honest, I’m not sufficiently familiar with 13th century England. I know the movie is loosely based on historical facts but the details elude me.
Having said all this you probably think I didn’t enjoy it. Wrong. I like Ironclad a lot. In a guilty pleasure kind of way and during those moments when there was no chopping off of hands, feet and tongues to be seen. I like stories about a small group of men fighting a large number, I like sieges and I think the time period makes for great battles scenes and fights with swords, bows and arrows. And for once the love story wasn’t too corny. All in all the battle scenes reminded me a bit of the one in Lord of the Rings (Helms Deep) and the love story had a Last of the Mohicans feel (of course not that good but nice enough). Compared to movies like Centurion, I would say, it was much better.
King John of England is a hated monarch. In 1215 rebellious barons force him to sign the Magna Carta a document that will uphold the rights of free-men. A few months later he reneges on his word and with a small army tries to get the kingdom back.
A small group of Knights Templar help one of the barons to fight him. They find some more men, mercenaries, who join them in their fight. They are only seven but all of them experienced fighters. They know he will try to visit each and every baron and take revenge on him. If they can prevent him from entering Rochester Castle, they can prevent his entering England. The group of seven men rides to the castle and arrives just in time before the king’s men. They are in for a long and harrowing siege.
Their number is tiny and it doesn’t seem realistic that they should be able to fight the large army of King John. Their hope is the French army that is approaching and will help them against King John.
Being inside of a castle like Rochester Castle has a few advantages but their losses are high anyway. Every time the army of the king attacks, a defense layer of the castle goes. Those who are captured are tortured and mutilated. After a few weeks of siege, the people inside of the walls are starving, the baron to whom the castle belongs starts to freak out and the nerves lay bare.
It’s a very action-driven and suspenseful movie. The actors are quite good, although I needed to get used to Paul Giamatti as King John. He looks really insane. The leader of the group of seven men is the Knights Templar and played by James Purefoy. I personally liked him better than Fassbender in Centurion. I thought the battle scenes and fights were well done and the special effects were quite good as well.
Rated in the category of medieval action-war adventure it deserves at least 4 out of 5 stars