Critics Consensus

Distractingly violent and historically dodgy, Mel Gibson's Braveheart justifies its epic length by delivering enough sweeping action, drama, and romance to match its ambition.



Total Count: 75


Audience Score

User Ratings: 32,708,456
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Movie Info

Mel Gibson, long-time heartthrob of the silver screen, came into his own as a director with Braveheart, an account of the life and times of medieval Scottish patriot William Wallace and, to a lesser degree, Robert the Bruce's struggle to unify his nation against its English oppressors. The story begins with young Wallace, whose father and brother have been killed fighting the English, being taken into the custody of his uncle, a nationalist and pre-Renaissance renaissance man. He returns twenty years later, a man educated both in the classics and in the art of war. There he finds his childhood sweetheart Murron (Catherine McCormack), and the two quickly fall in love. There are murmurs of revolt against the English throughout the village, but Wallace remains aloof, wishing simply to tend to his crops and live in peace. However, when his love is killed by English soldiers the day after their secret marriage (held secretly so as to prevent the local English lord from exercising the repulsive right of prima noctae, the privilege of sleeping with the bride on the first night of the marriage), he springs into action and single-handedly slays an entire platoon of foot soldiers. The other villagers join him in destroying the English garrison, and thus begins the revolt against the English in what will eventually become full-fledged war. Wallace eventually leads his fellow Scots in a series of bloody battles that prove a serious threat to English domination and, along the way, has a hushed affair with the Princess of Wales (the breathtaking Sophie Marceau) before his imminent demise. For his efforts, Gibson won the honor of Best Director from the Academy; the movie also took home statuettes for Best Picture, Cinematography, Makeup, and Sound Effects. ~ Jeremy Beday, Rovi


Mel Gibson
as William Wallace
Sophie Marceau
as Princess Isabelle
Patrick McGoohan
as Longshanks
James Cosmo
as Campbell
David O'Hara
as Stephen
Angus Macfadyen
as Robert the Bruce
Ian Bannen
as The Leper
Peter Hanly
as Prince Edward
James Robinson
as Young William
Sean Lawlor
as Malcolm Wallace
Sandy Nelson
as John Wallace
Sean McGinley
as MacClannough
Mhairi Calvey
as Young Murron
Brian Cox
as Argyle Wallace
Alan Tall
as Elder Stewart
Barry McGovern
as King's Advisor
Julie Austin
as Mrs. Morrison
Alex Norton
as Bride's Father
Joanne Bett
as Toothless Girl
Rupert Vansittart
as Lord Bottoms
Ralph Riach
as Priest No. 1
Robert Paterson
as Priest No. 2
Malcolm Tierney
as Magistrate
Dean Lopata
as Madbaker/Flagman
Tam White
as MacGregor
Donal Gibson
as Stewart
Jeanne Marine
as Nicolette
Martin Dunne
as Lord Dolecroft
Fred Chiverton
as Leper's Caretaker
John Murtagh
as Lochlan
David McKay
as Young Soldier
Peter Mullan
as Veteran
Martin Murphy
as Lord Talmadge
Richard Leaf
as Governor of York
Daniel Coli
as York Captain
Niall O'Brien
as English General
Bill Murdoch
as Villager
Phil Kelly
as Farmer
Martin Dempsey
as Drinker No. 1
Jimmy Keogh
as Drinker No. 2
Joe Savino
as Chief Assassin
David Gant
as Royal Magistrate
Mal Whyte
as Jailor
Paul Tucker
as English Commander
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News & Interviews for Braveheart

Critic Reviews for Braveheart

All Critics (75) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (58) | Rotten (17)

  • Braveheart is a big, strapping medieval sword-and-arrow movie with more fighting than romance, a surprising abundance of lush and sensuous imagery considering its brutal strife, and Gibson fiercely inciting it to stand up and march.

    Apr 26, 2018 | Full Review…

    Jay Carr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • As the star of the new, epic-scaled Braveheart, Gibson celebrates yet another man of selfless valor. And as its director, he displays some daring of his own.

    Feb 24, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • A lavish, entertaining spectacle full of manly men, dastardly villains, rousing battles and women who easily see Mel's hero potential through all that messy hair.

    Feb 24, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • In addition to staging battle scenes well, Gibson also manages to recreate the filth and mood of 700 years ago.

    Feb 24, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Mel Gibson throws his whole heart into a role. No one acts with more conviction, and his errors are honest ones.

    Feb 24, 2014 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Braveheart has a gut-wrenching, bone-breaking, sword-thwacking verve.

    Feb 24, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Braveheart

  • Sep 18, 2015
    One of if not the best Mel Gibson film starred and directed, In this near 3 hour film we expect some down time but in the first 30 minutes we have no real plot just a love story, But when it ends in tragedy finally the film starts, With some great very realistic battle scenes and for a while it's just battle scenes, Then betrayal happens and we have down time but we are so sucked into the story by then it's gripping and emotional, Mel Gibson was fantastic with his acting and directing, He made the filthy gritty 13th century come alive, My only downfall is it's too long and bum numbing but it's a classic and a must watch before you die.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 17, 2015
    An engaging and romantic historical fantasy epic -- one that has a tie to the personal and feels sincere.
    Kyle M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 29, 2013
    "Every man dies, not every man really lives." The Academy Award winning war epic Braveheart is an extraordinary film that set a new bar for the genre. The story follows a Scottish peasant named William Wallace who's pushed into leading a rebellion against the tyranny of English rule when his wife is murdered. Starring Mel Gibson, Patrick McGoohan, Sophie Marceau, and Brendan Gleeson, the film has a strong cast that delivers outstanding performances. Additionally, the battle sequences are remarkably gritty and violent, which adds to the authentic tone of the film. And, composer James Horner provides a sweeping and majestic score that's incredibly powerful. A groundbreaking film, Braveheart does an exceptional job at depicting both the valor and the horror of war.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 04, 2013
    I could still remember on how reposeful I am while watching this movie. It's music sips through my ear, enters me, moved me, and almost tear me up. 'Braveheart' managed to sweep through with romance, drama and war. An undeniably immense picture, it is one of few epics that could possibly move millions. The film grabbed five academy awards including best picture. In my personal opinion, the most memorable element of 'Braveheart' is it's music, which was being composed by the talented James Horner. I have to admit that I am slightly puzzled with it; at times it feels like a genuine Scottish music, but also at the same time it feels like a plain modern music, but either way it is beautiful. I am going to put aside any sense of familiarity here, but whenever the music is being played, my love for this film grows. Also, I honestly believe that if this charming music is absent, the picture would not be so memorable. Acting performances are good, but not outstanding. Patrick McGoohan's work for this film did hold my attention. He played the main villain of the story named King Edward "Longshanks". Surely, what excites me was his approach for the character; a cool, quiet, and methodically behaved, and at the same time, a cold and violent human being. He might be labelled as coward or a hypocrite, but assuredly, this "Longshanks" character is a pretty good villain. The film has great cinematography too. Shots are so subtle and are near perfection. Hands down, the movie is being effectively photographed. Battle sequences are so well executed, and one fact that I massively admire about this film is that there is no CGI involved. Unlike some modern war films, fighting scenes are so believable and engaging, and yes, realism is there. Absolutely, these mentioned praises would be missing without Mel Gibson's precious direction. A major let-down would be the inconsistency which lies in the contents of the story. I would be reluctant to mention specifically on which part of the plot is flawed, but they are simply too abrupt, unbelievable and most importantly, overly dramatic. It tastes like it's storyline is being shifted away from the right track. 'Braveheart' is one of those few films that is so ambitious and sets it's bar so high, and delivered. Handsomely mounted, 'Braveheart' is positively one of the most memorable films of 1990s. [3/4]
    Alex D Super Reviewer

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