As a historical account, Ironclad tells the story of a group heroic warriors who stood up against King John in order to defend the castle of Rochester amidst a civil war In England.

Set in 1215, the story revolves around the hated and reviled King John (Giamatti). Drunk and reckless, he refuses to abide by the Magna Carta, which guaranteed the rights of citizens in England.

While on his rampage, it’s the castle of Rochester that provides the toughest test for the King. Assembled with the help of Baron Albany (Cox), a small group of revolutionary fighters use the castle as a fortress to hold off King John’s powerful armies.

Led by Marshall (Purefoy), a knight who has a regretful past and has growing affections for the already married lady of the castle Isabel (Mara), the rebels go on to engage in an epic blood-thirsty battle that will define the war.

The historically accurate plot is the best feature of the story, and sub-plots such as Marshall’s love interest and the knights’ pasts make for a more interesting watch. As clichéd and predictable as it might seem at times, the film’s story is still engaging

Just as important to the structure of a film however, are its characters. In Ironclad they are acceptable, and nothing more. Paul Giamatti actually plays his role perfectly as the enraged King.

The rest of the cast offer simple performances that don’t live up to such an epic tale. Even as the lead, James Purefoy fails to capture the essence of a rebellious warrior.

As for the fighting sequences, they’re tremendously disappointing. The clichéd shaky-camera technique is in full use in the film, and does nothing to enhance the action scenes. If you’re expecting bloodshed and gore, prepare to be disappointed, as they are at a minimum, compared to other films of the same genre.

In conclusion, Ironclad is an attempt to combine history and adventure, that fails to do so. With such a lack of originality and fresh elements, it’s a wonder filmmakers keep picking up these scripts. Good for a rental at most.