Deadline is reporting that David Mackenzie went straight back to the editing room after his latest film, the epic "Outlaw King" was met with mixed reviews at its TIFF premiere a few weeks ago.
The filmmaker has cut 20 minutes from the movie, which will have another festival bow on October 17th at the BFI London Film Festival.
The film, a life-long passion project for the Scottish director, takes place during the medieval years of 1304 to 1307 and recounts the story of Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine), Braveheart's William Wallace’s brother and successor, who went from being king to an outlaw after murdering the high-ranking son of a powerful monarch.
Mackenzie claims he rushed the pic to TIFF by delivering what Deadline calls a "wet cut."
I was there at the premiere and wasn't too smitten by the film, which, at 137 minutes, felt rather sluggish and non-involving. I don't think the 20 minutes cut from that version will make much of a difference but I'm open to seeing it again, especially with Mackenzie urging critics to give it another shot.
“It’s worth another look, and I encourage critics who saw it and didn’t connect with it to see it again. It has a different sense since it’s under two hours, but it’s still very much an epic.”
My main issue with the film was how conventional it felt. Even though this had nothing to do with William Wallace, "The Outlaw King" still felt like a "Braveheart" rehash. The same story of revenge with epic battle sequences added in for a thrilling measure. I thought we were past those kinds of films being made, especially with Ridley Scott going through an over-done phase of churning them out like candy in the 2000's ("Gladiator," "Kingdom of Heaven," "Robin Hood.").
It wasn't actually the reviews that alerted Mackenzie but rather the way the audience responded to the film at TIFF. An oddity considering Toronto audiences are known to be the kindest and most responsive to films, even duds. I was there at the Princess of Wales and Mackenzie is right, you could tell the audience wasn't involved with the film.
“I could feel what the audience was like in the theater,” says the filmmaker about their discomfort. “I’m sensitive to the way they felt.”
So, what exactly did he cut? Mackenzie doesn't delve into that in the Deadline interview, but he does say it involves “some complete sequences that I felt weren’t helping the story move along" He went on to add that in this latest cut of the film “The play-ability is better now and the access to the characters.”
"The Outlaw King" was also a disappointment because it came right after Mackenzie's one-two punch of "Starred Up," and "Hell or High Water," which really put him on the world map as a filmmaker.
He told Deadline his initial version of "Outlaw King" was around four hours.