Movie Review: Stone of Destiny


A hot Scot steals a big rock.


Charles Martin Smith, 2008

Following World War 2, Scotland is hopeful that they will become independent. When England won’t allow it to happen, the Scottish nationalists become frustrated. Young activist Ian Hamilton (Charlie Cox) decides that the problem is national apathy, and decides to do something about it. He hatches a plan to steal the Stone of Scone, a big rock that was stolen after English victories over Scottish armies and taken to Westminster Abbey, where it was placed under the throne. Whenever a new British monarch is crowned, it happens above this stone, which is really kind of a dick move. He asks for support from politician John McCormack (Robert Carlyle), who mostly thinks he’s crazy, but gives him the pittance he asks for anyway. McCormack introduces Ian to Kay Matheson (Kate Mara), who enlists a team to help hatch a plan to steal the stone: strong local drunk Gavin (Stephen McCole), and quiet Alan (Ciaron Kelly), who has a car, so he’s obviously in. The team heads to England to attempt to steal the stone.


There is only one reason I decided to watch this movie, and that is an all-consuming obsession with Daredevil. It was New Year’s Eve, and I’d been watching Daredevil with a friend, and frankly my brain wasn’t up for anything challenging. Which is good, because Stone of Destiny is in no way challenging. It has a certain charm to it, but it’s by no means a particularly good movie. There’s a weird American sensibility to its Scottish nationalism that doesn’t quite work, and it’s a very lightweight affair. There’s no deep examination of what the nationalism means, or its cost. Then again, with a cast this adorable, it’s hard to fault the movie for too long. Charlie Cox is surprisingly bad at a Scottish accent, which is made worse when he’s next to true Scotsmen (heh) like Billy Boyd and Robert Carlyle. Still, he’s got the charm and that cheeky-yet-innocent smile that works for the role, and it’s no chore to watch him for an hour and a half (he’s just so gosh darned cute, you guys). Kate Mara acquits herself surprisingly well, even if she totally gets sidelined for the deed itself. Stephen McCole ably provides some sweet comic relief. Robert Carlyle and Billy Boyd have strangely ineffectual little roles, but both do a good job.

The fact that the heroes of this story are doing something that is really downright illegal seems to be of no concern to anyone. This is an adventure romp, no time for the ethical quandaries of whether stealing the Stone is actually right. The heist itself is notable in that it feels pretty genuine for a group of non-professional thieves. Their skimpy plan leaves them woefully unprepared, and there’s some full on Benny Hill-style antics as everything starts to go wrong for them. They make a dozen little mistakes, which makes our plucky heroes into fools for a little while there, but their underdog status is never in question. There is an interesting moment where our group enlist the help of a group of Roma people that works quite well, and is a nice touch. The film just feels rushed, as if not enough thought or effort has been put into making it well. Overall it’s a cute but incredibly slight film.

Stone of Destiny on IMDb


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