King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
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King Arthur : Legend of the Sword

Charlie Hunnam may play the title role, but this is very much Guy Ritchie’s movie. Willing to go with that? You’re in for some fun. But if you’re not a fan of Ritchie’s signature modern day street, quick cutting style, be forewarned.

In this meld of old and new, Ritchie plays with this legend, making a bloody brew of royal gang busters, seething leaders, and seering seers. Some of the effects are laughable, the story, at times, unintelligible. But, those moments feel of minor interest to the energetic Ritchie, whose seemingly innate feel for thugs rules this adaptation. Arthur, a child having witnessed his parents’ murders, escapes his birthright hell hiding on a boat. He is rescued and raised by prostitutes and their swarthy pals. Arthur grows to become a fighter among fighters, only to be captured and forced like the rest of his countrymen to try and pull that sword from the stone.

This is no sweet story of Knights sitting merrily around a round table, or lovers enjoying the glories of Camelot. The town’s about to be destroyed by a power hungry Vortgern (a snarlingly enjoyable Jude Law) and it’s up to the begrudging Arthur (handsomely sweated by Hunnam) to save the kingdom he eventually accepts into leading.

This is not an instance where the artist is serving the piece. Here, the piece is serving the artist. That does take a bit of getting used to, watching as Ritchie slices and dices his scenes with the acuity of Arthur’s sword skills. I came to admire the determined direction after I, admittedly, gulped a few times. Why shouldn’t Ritchie put his stamp on an oft-told tale? And why shouldn’t we allow ourselves to not only appreciate that, but get a surprising kick out of it, too?

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