Does Mel Gibson hate the English or what? Having won a barrel-load of Oscars for "Braveheart", Gibbo now returns to the country of his birth (America, not Oz in fact) to battle the Brits once again.
It's 1776 and Mel is Benjamin Martin, a war hero turned pacifist widower committed to looking after his farm and his flock of kids. Unfortunately, the war against oppressive England kicks off and only minutes after fighting is okayed, his eldest son Gabriel (Ledger) signs up, much to the chagrin of Dad.
But after a run-in with the evil Colonel Tavington (a lascivious Isaacs), Martin changes his mind, dumps the offspring with Joely Richardson and before you can say "Freedom!", he's slaughtering Redcoats with the best of them.
It's epic in scope and length - at just fifteen minutes shy of three hours - but director Emmerich ("Independence Day") is used to handling such large action. Interestingly, he chooses to forgo a lot of that to concentrate on the more sedate familial relationships. But for those of you into battle action, never fear. The fighting is massive, with thousands of extras caught in a flurry of cannonballs and bayonets.
Gibson has proven he can do this kind of stuff with his eyes closed and he is rounded out by a fine supporting cast. Isaacs chews up the scenery as a truly vicious villain, while newcomer Ledger elicits sympathy as the idealistic, na´ve youngster.
It is slightly too long and inevitably it sags during the middle eight, but if you can last the distance, there is a lot to get excited about.