When you watch “Braveheart” you can’t help but feel like you’ve seen it before. That’s because “Braveheart” did it first. James Horner’s thematic bagpipe music that could make a grown man cry is nearly replicated in his score for “Titanic” (although “Titanic” won him the Oscar). The highly skilled love and revenge-fueled hero is all that is Maximus in “Gladiator.” The list goes on, but the point is that “Braveheart” set formula for the modern day historical fiction war film.
Watching this film today, you aren’t exactly blown away by it, but it doesn’t do anything wrong. “Braveheart” is the story of William Wallace, the Scottish farmer-turned-warrior who sparked a rebellion that eventually earned Scotland independence from England. Mel Gibson (director and producer) plays Wallace and does so quite well. Gibson’s performance is in his presence on screen. He doesn’t do the nuances that well, but I would’ve gotten off my couch to fight for that guy. The other performances were all good, but no one stands out, though Angus Mcfayden really communicated the inner-conflict of Robert the Bruce quite well.
You certainly don’t put on “Braveheart” for acting lessons, however. This is a film about emotion, the human spirit, good triumphing over oppression and of course: brutally violent battle sequences. This is where “Braveheart” delivers. The script is just one little pearl of wisdom and motivation after another. If I was a coach of a sports team, I’d just quote this film before games, half time, after games–it’s just full of great one liners and as much as you want to laugh and say “that’s cheesy” it just never feels that way. The film is about one man that stood for freedom and never made an exception, which resulted in him killing a lot of people. The romance angle (for added emotional effect) is not as strong, but certainly balances out the mood of the film that’s supposed to be about heart (though of course Wallace is a champion of using his head.) The combination of the two make for a film that is both entertaining and touching.
At this day and age, “Braveheart” might seem a little stale. There’s nothing revolutionary going on (well, cinematically speaking, not plot-wise). Unless you have a fond attachment to the film from when it first came out and was indeed revolutionary, you’ll find “Braveheart” an entertaining and solid tale of heroism and belief in good winning out. It’s hard to watch in an entirely secular light knowing the post-Passion of the Christ Gibson of today, but it will still make you feel good.
Directed by: Mel Gibson
Written by: Randall Wallace
Starring: Mel Gibson