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by Eleanor Ringel

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At the heart of Mel Gibson's tumultuously entertaining epic is the almost-quaint notion that movie heroics should mean something more than a play for the much-coveted 18-25 box office demographic. As did ":Spartacus," "Dances With Wolves" and even, in an odd way, "A Man For All Seasons," Gibson's picture extols such old-fashioned virtues as honor, freedom, principle, loyalty and romantic love. Gibson, who also directed, plays William Wallace, a bonnie 13th-century Scotsman who gave the English hell for the hash they tried to make out of his homeland. A loose adaptation of Wallace's myth-enshrouded exploits, the movie runs almost three hours. But with it's ferociously brutal battles, romantic trysts, snotty court intrigues (coolly orchestrated by Patrick McGoohan as the evil Edward I) and squabbling rival clans, you hardly notice. Parent alert: this is a very violent movie (think, The Road McWarrior); otherwise, good for Mel, Scotland and St Cinema!

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