Directed by Guy Ritchie
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, David Beckham
Film Review by Andrew Galvin
Geezer Guy does the Knights of the Round Table: more SPAMalot than Camelot…
Remember the fear when Guy Ritchie started branching out? Is Sherlock Holmes going to start talking like Vinnie Jones? Who’s playing Moriarty, Jason Statham? (Actually, that sounds amazing). Thankfully, with two entries in the Sherlock Holmes universe and a better-than-you-think-but-it-flopped The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Ritchie showed just what a versatile filmmaker he can be, adapting his by-then dated visual style and dialogue into a fresher setting. In all three, no one talked like a geezer, and crash zooming was only delivered when absolutely necessary.
Unfortunately, in his fourth non-gangster film, all of our Ritchie nightmares have come true. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a big surprise that he’s taken on King Arthur: Legend of the Sword; a tale of a young man realising his destiny to usurp the monster at the top could come from the crime underworld, and he’s fallen into old habits hard.
During flashback, we meet young would-be-King Arthur as his uncle Vortigern (Jude Law, who we know is evil because he kisses creepily) makes a grab for power, and Arthur is sent down river to “Londinium”, where he is picked up by wenches. We then vomit through a crash-zoom of Arthur’s tough upbringing (he gets slapped a lot), before we catch up with him in his 20s, where he is now Charlie Hunnam and hanging out with a bunch of Cockerneys. They have nicknames like “Goose Fat” Bill and “Flat Nosed” Mike, call each other “mate” a lot and talk like they’re in Lock, Stock and One Round Table.
Elsewhere, a scenery-masticating Law who stalks sets thinking he’s in Game of Thrones. It doesn’t gel. Then David Beckham shows up. With dialogue. And yes, it’s every bit as bad as that sounds. Practically looking at the camera, he delivers lines such as, “’ands on the ‘ilt stoopid” like a two-year-old looking at words for the first time.
Nothing here feels convincing, from the boring CGI-drenched sword fights, the lack of chemistry between the leads, an uncharismatic Hunnam and an over-reliance on gloom, worsened further by the inevitable 3D light loss. Perhaps most unforgivably for a Medieval actioner, there is none of the mud 'n blood that the genre requires to really grab the audience. During pre-production, both Ritchie and studio were eager to talk up this $105m monster as the first in a six-film franchise. There’s a lesson to learn there: something about chickens and counting…
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is out in UK cinemas now. Watch the movie trailer below: