Ironclad (15) * *

Lee Hockaday, commercial director at St Vincent College, Gosport

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War is hell and Jonathan English’s recreation of a little known and exceedingly violent chapter in 13th century British history doesn’t stint on the gore.

When it comes to body count, Ironclad hacks and slashes into triple figures before the end credits roll.

English’s gritty period piece has plenty of brawn but it’s harder to find the brains in the screenplay co-written by Erick Kastel.

Characters are narrowly defined, casting King John and his followers as the boo-hiss bad guys and the rebel noblemen as the valiant and selfless heroes, who stood firm in the face of tyranny.

As the cast is steadily whittled down by arrows and swords, we cheer for the protagonists not because we care for these men but because in every pantomime, even one as gruesome as this, good must ultimately vanquish evil.

Ironclad orchestrates some blistering action sequences and the storming of the castle is a brutal and thrilling affair.

Technically, you can’t fault his vision; emotionally, we’re short-changed.