Starring Charlie Cox, Kate Mara, and Billy Boyd. Rated PG. Opens Friday, February 20, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas.
Easygoing in every sense of the term, Stone of Destiny is an innocuous adventure drained of any special meaning or political edge, with a potentially tragic series of events played for laughs—although those don’t arrive often enough.
Watch the trailer for Stone of Destiny
Vancouver-based writer-director Charles Martin Smith adapted the tale from the memoir of Ian Hamilton, a charismatic Glaswegian who, almost six decades ago, began his career as a professional shit disturber by breaking into London’s Westminster Abbey and stealing a heavy rock previously used to crown Scottish kings—and that must have hurt.
His plan was to repatriate the Stone of Scone—which sounds more like a pastry disaster than a symbol of repressed nationalism—in hopes of rekindling local pride after centuries of literally being under the British throne.
Stardust’s Charlie Cox, a handsome Englishman with an uncertain accent, plays the collegiate Hamilton. Apply irony as needed. The leather-jacketed rebel is joined by brave-hearted university pals played by Ciaron Kelly, Billy Boyd, and American Kate Mara, who is along to provide a perfunctory love interest for our hero. Brenda Fricker, Robert Carlyle, and Peter Mullan also have small, rather thankless parts.
Aside from the usual budget-driven errors in geography and signage, the film simply doesn’t convey a compelling sense of time and place. And it’s saddled with dull narration that merely describes what’s already on-screen. Mostly, the actors come across as thoroughly modern in their shruggingly “whatever” body language and inflection. Like them, audiences may wonder what they are doing stuck in a 1950 that seems like a lightly sepia-toned version of today.
What do we learn from this? The security may have been lousy, but the ale was cheap.