Well, I always like all kinds of historical movies, especially those popular stories depicting the past, even though those are loosely based on reality and more with fictional characters. ‘Ironclad’ (2011) is definitely one of those, set on the time of King John when he signed the very famous Magna Carta treaty.
Directed by Jonathan English, the film narrates the siege of Rochester Castle by King John in 1215. Having been forced to sign the Magna Carta, the charter of liberty and political rights outlined by a group of feudal barons in an attempt to give equal rights to all English men and limit King’s power, King John hired Danish mercenaries to punish those barons.
In the history books, we have read that King John was not a good monarch, his hunger to conquer and hold power goes with many petty and numerous cruel things, part of which can be seen in ‘Ironclad’ soon after the sign of that 13th-century modern democratic document.
The film mostly shows the struggle of a group of Knights Templar who stood against the King and his specially deployed mercenaries. The army of the King tried to siege the Rochester Castle which turned into a bloody battle and historically it was pretty much accurate as it was indeed a really hard-fought battle.
Paul Giamatti’s performance as King John was not that impressive compared to his other films. Moreover, even though the plot of the film only talks about the siege, it could have been much better bringing more drama into play than making it just bloody swordplay. Other than flesh and blood, there is no heart in ‘Ironclad’.
Star cast: Paul Giamatti (King John), James Purefoy (Marshall), Kate Mara (Lady Isabel), Brian Cox (Baron Albany), Charles Dance (Archbishop Langton), Jason Flemyng (Beckett), Mackenzie Crook (Marks), and Derek Jacobi (Reginald de Cornhill).