Claiming to tell the true story that inspired the legend, Antoine Fuqua put forth a gritty version of King Arthur. Narrated by Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), the story tells of young men recruited by the Roman Empire to fight along the wall splitting Britain. Arthur (Clive Owen) leads a group of men, played by recognizable actors, as they fight barbarians alongside the Roman soldiers. These attackers are led by Merlin (Stephen Dillane). The knights Gawain (Joel Edgerton), Galahad (Hugh Dancy), Tristan (Mads Mikkelsen), Bors (Ray Winstone) and Dagonet (Ray Stevenson) all prove to be brave and brutal warriors as they fight an advancement encouraged by the impending exit of the Roman Empire from Britain.
The knights do sit at a roundtable and look forward to returning home for some peace, but one last mission brings them North to fight the Saxon hordes and rescue a family. Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgård) leads the Saxons with his son Cynric (Til Schweiger). Arthur and his knights find a settlement of Christians punishing pagans. The knights free some of the tortured people and find Guinevere (Keira Knightley) trapped behind a wall being put to death. They free her and leave the priests to the Saxons.
Guinevere brings Merlin to Arthur and organizes a tense peace between them. Arthur struggles between his duty to Rome and history with Britain as he has vowed vengeance but his loyalties continue to shift. As a child, he had pulled a sword from his father's burial mound to avenge his mother's death at the hands of, he believes, Merlin. Guinevere and Merlin recruit Arthur to lead the men of Britain against the Romans and the Saxons.
Arthur and his men take on a horde of Saxons on a frozen lake, defeating them when Dagonet sacrifices himself to crack the ice. Cynric returns to his father ashamed as Guinevere continues to build the legend of Arthur in Arthur's own mind to convince to fight. The Romans retreated but Arthur remains to fight the Saxons alone. Arthur confronts Cerdic at the wall before he retreats behind it. The knights with the help of Merlin and Guinevere confront the larger Saxon army by using smoke, catapults and fire arrows. The final battle ensues with a bloody result with many deaths.
The film is pretty dull and boring throughout with a few moments of medieval battle that offer some minor entertainment. The acting is wooden and the directing is nothing special. The set pieces look expensive but nothing is actually stunning. The battle sequences are ruined by an overwrought soundtrack that forces the emotions that aren't there. The fighting is poorly choreographed and heavily edited. This is another failed attempt to revive the old legend and I think I'm going to see another one in the theater.