Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Eric Bana, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell
Written by: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, (also story)Joby Harold and (story) David Dobkin.
Running Time: 126 mins
Release date: 17th May 2017
Lord, luv a duck, if it ain’t King Arufer comin’ in my gaff! Yes, Guy Ritchie, the man who once changed the face of British gangster movies has turned his attention to the legend of Arthur and his mystical sword that is less magical and more Lock, Stock and 1 Smoking Excalibur! Ritchie pulls out all the stops with the visuals but delivers us a baffling and boring blockbuster that spends most of its time confusing itself let alone the audience.
Arthur, a young boy, is sent down river to Londinium where he spends his early years living in a brothel and learning to be a master of the streets, not realizing that he is the heir to the English throne. When faced with the chance of removing a mighty sword from a stone, Arthur manages to release the power of Excalibur and so joins a band of outlaws out to overthrow the King Vortigern.
One of the delights of watching Lock, Stock and Snatch was that Ritchie used cinema in the most visceral manner. With fast edits, slow motion and camera angles that seem almost impossible, he changed the face of British movie making in two movies and it became almost like a trademark. Watch a Ritchie movie, you get the visual delights. Here we get that and in the beginning, it works incredibly well. The pre-credit sequence has giant elephants conjured up by Mage Mordred, destroying the kingdom’s bridges and it is a spectacular start. Even the quick-fire cutting of Arthur life from boy to man is great fun and you immediately believe that this is going to be blockbuster heaven. Alas, it’s not.
It then allows us to be properly introduced to Arthur and his friends, who seem to be running dodgy business deals from the brothel, speaking like good old Cockney geezers in a scene that wouldn’t go amiss from one of Ritchie’s earlier efforts. Then we have the fight sequences which are so full of tricks that it becomes hard to follow and suddenly character development and plot become a blur from fairly mundane special effects and mystical creatures that are never scary or surprising.
With all these whizzes and bangs going on, you care less for the characters and so it just becomes less inviting than a cockney knees-up. In fact, on several occasions I found myself shuffling in my seat and looking at the time. Yes, this was a three time-check movie, which is never a good sign.
The performances all seem pretty ordinary. Charlie Hunnam, carrying the film as Arthur, doesn’t have the charm or charisma to fully engage with, and unwisely, tries to play him as Jack the lad with an accent that seems out of place when surrounded by his Londoners. Jude Law, as the villain (we know he’s the baddie as he dresses in black, poses like man at C&A and drops the F-bomb) has fun playing bad but it wouldn’t seem out of place if he screamed: “You slag!” Then there’s David Beckham! Considering his roots in Leytonstone, it sounds like he’s been studying Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins for that authentic Cockerney! It also is a totally misguided cameo as he occurs in the film’s most pivotal and important scene: the removal of Excalibur from the stone!
King Arthur: Legend Of The Stone has flashes of the brilliance we expect from Ritchie, yet it’s muddled and messy and quite frankly I didn’t care. It also doesn’t help that it feels incredibly dated and formulaic and after the Sherlock Holmes films and the underrated The Man From U.N.C.L.E, this is a huge disappointment and hopefully, Ritchie will get back to his old ways once again.