2008 Running time: 97 Certificate: pg Not yet rated

Synopsis

Glasgow, 1950: As Scotland fails to establish its own parliament once again, young patriot Ian Hamilton (Charlie Cox) vows to salvage national pride by returning the 'Stone of Destiny' - a symbol of Scottish sovereignty - to its rightful place. Trouble is, the talismanic brick has been housed in Westminster Abbey under watchful English eyes since 1296. Robert Carlyle, Billy Boyd and 24's Kate Mara are in on a heist caper which may sound like whimsy but, according to the real Hamilton 's memoir, is absolutely true.

Director

  • Charles Martin Smith

Cast

  • Charlie Cox

  • Billy Boyd

  • Robert Carlyle

  • Kate Mara

  • Brenda Fricker

Review

When robbers talk of stealing rocks, they generally mean jewellery, precious gems and other readily baggable bling. But the rock to be lifted in this particular heist is just that: a quarter-ton slab of sandstone wedged under a throne in Westminster Abbey.

It is the titular Stone of Destiny, aka the Stone of Scone, aka the Coronation Stone; an important chunk of Scottish heritage captured in 1296 by King Edward I, aka 'the Hammer of the Scots' (you may remember him from Braveheart).

Placed beneath the Coronation Chair on which all English monarchs are crowned, the stone is a permanent reminder of England's domain over all points north. Well, almost permanent...

In 1950, fed up with McNationalists being all mouth and nae troosers, Glasgow University student Ian Hamilton, played here by Stardust's Charlie Cox, conspired to nick the brick and bring it home as a gesture of Scottish defiance.

Inspired and unofficially supported by his patriotic dean (Carlyle), Ian's carefully planned smash-and-grab hits its first snag when his best friend and accomplice Bill (former hobbit Boyd) gets cold feet.

But bonnie wee idealist Kay (Mara) is made of sterner stuff, recruiting her pal Gavin (Stephen McCole) as muscle and his housemate Alan (Ciaron Kelly) for the extra set of wheels.

To London, then, for a Christmas Eve raid. But hoots mon, what's this? Night-time security guards? Anti-jock cops round every corner too! Crivens.

But where there's a Robert the Bruce anecdote, there's a way, and the plucky quartet refuse to give up until they're dancing in the streets from Dumfries to Dundee.

When robbers talk of stealing rocks, they generally mean jewellery, precious gems and other readily baggable bling. But the rock to be lifted in this particular heist is just that: a quarter-ton slab of sandstone wedged under a throne in Westminster Abbey.

It is the titular Stone of Destiny, aka the Stone of Scone, aka the Coronation Stone; an important chunk of Scottish heritage captured in 1296 by King Edward I, aka 'the Hammer of the Scots' (you may remember him from Braveheart).

Placed beneath the Coronation Chair on which all English monarchs are crowned, the stone is a permanent reminder of England's domain over all points north. Well, almost permanent...

In 1950, fed up with McNationalists being all mouth and nae troosers, Glasgow University student Ian Hamilton, played here by Stardust's Charlie Cox, conspired to nick the brick and bring it home as a gesture of Scottish defiance.

Inspired and unofficially supported by his patriotic dean (Carlyle), Ian's carefully planned smash-and-grab hits its first snag when his best friend and accomplice Bill (former hobbit Boyd) gets cold feet.

But bonnie wee idealist Kay (Mara) is made of sterner stuff, recruiting her pal Gavin (Stephen McCole) as muscle and his housemate Alan (Ciaron Kelly) for the extra set of wheels.

To London, then, for a Christmas Eve raid. But hoots mon, what's this? Night-time security guards? Anti-jock cops round every corner too! Crivens. And och, to cap it all, if Kay doesn't fall ill the noo.

But where there's a Robert the Bruce anecdote, there's a way, and the plucky quartet refuse to give up until they're dancing in the streets from Dumfries to Dundee.

Hamilton's book, 'The Taking of the Stone of Destiny', has all the ingredients for a rollicking dramatisation. So as a leading Scottish Nationalist, he would have every right to be as disappointed with this singularly unremarkable adaptation as the time he lost aGlasgowUnirectorship election to Ross Kemp.

As Mel Gibson demonstrated with Braveheart, the key to any tale of patriotism is passion.

Unfortunately, Californian writer-director Charles Martin Smith (best known as the mousy accountant in The Untouchables) doesn't so much cry "Freedom!" as blow gently on everyone's porridge.

Earnestness and an eye for period detail can take you so far - usually to a slot on Sunday evening TV. But in terms of characterisation and excitement, Smith fails to meet the big-screen standard.

Those whose national football and cricket teams are led by an Italian and a South African respectively have little room to talk, but surely Scotland has enough homegrown filmmaking talent to stick it to we sassenachs without relying on the Yanks?

You may also like