A bloody, lusty tale set in a world of chain mail, swords, castles and men who scream “Yeeeeaaauuugggghhhh!!!” as they embark on pretty much any activity involving potential death unto themselves and others, Ironclad is, like many cinematic history lessons, simplistic, shamelessly sensational and more than a little‚ well, inaccurate. But it’s also a spirited and stimulating piece of entertainment featuring a cast that’s fully committed to all the metal-clanging mayhem that starts pretty much from the first frame and doesn’t stop until seemingly every last person in England is dead. For those who want to know the historical context of all this sword-swinging bravado, Ironclad takes place in the 13th century, after King John (Paul Giamatti) decided to ignore the Magna Carta that claims all Englishmen are created equal and get revenge on all of the barons that forced him to sign the humiliating document that relinquished most of his monarchal power. He conducts a siege on Rochester Castle but soon finds it difficult to breach as his vengeful campaign is met with heavy resistance by Thomas Marshal (James Purefoy) and his band of merry men. Good stuff, despite its limited budget and rather cartoonish dialogue; a supporting cast that includes Jason Flemyng, Kate Mara, Derek Jacobi, Brian Cox, Charles Dance and Mackenzie Crook takes it to dramatic heights it otherwise only would’ve dreamt of reaching.
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