Director: Otto Bathurst
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Tim Minchin, Jamie Dornan
Look into my eyes, you will see, what y….wait…?
Nottingham’s most famous resident is back and Sherwood Forest is once more brought to the big screen (kind of). Robin Hood movies have been fairly constant offerings over the past few decades and all are linked by one fact – none of them are all that good, unless you want a chuckle in the form of Robin Hood: Men in Tights. After the runaway flop of 2017’s King Arthur, it was Robin Hood’s turn to receive a “gritty”, modern retelling.
Having been presumed dead during the Crusades, Robin of Loxley (Egerton) undertakes stealth and battle training with Little John (Foxx) – an adversary during the Crusades and one whose son Robin tried to save. The reason? To take down the dictatorship of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Mendelsohn) – who seized Robin’s manor and belongings during his time away fighting. Maid Marion (Hewson), Robin’s love interest before the war and now with Will Scarlett (Dornan), is also plotting her own schemes against the greedy ruler to try and rid Nottingham of his oppression. Taking on the mantle of ‘The Hood’, Robin begins his secret mission to steal from the rich and give to the poor, all whilst getting closer to the Sherriff in order to bring him down once and for all.
This new craze of taking older/well-worn characters/movies and transforming them into grungy, tough affairs generally helms less than exciting results and with this iteration of Robin Hood, nothing changes. Under a gloomy filter, the streetwise Batman…I mean Robin, flings himself about pinging off arrows in slow-motion with unerring accuracy against goons with Stormtrooper aim, finds time to effortlessly flirt with the hopelessly-in-love Maid Marion, create credibility stretching schemes in minutes and deceive the clearly-intelligent Sherriff like nobody’s business. It’s all very stylised and frankly not very good to look at – very much like its historical cousin King Arthur (shudder).
Whilst Taron Egerton is good to look at, he isn’t at his charismatic best here. It’s all a bit wooden and flat to be believable. Jamie Foxx is wasted and Eve Hewson is nothing more than a low cut top with a strange reliance on men – hardly the most progressive character. Ben Mendelsohn at least appears to be having fun in his now-standard villainous role and Jamie Dornan is afforded some depth in his role as Will Scarlett – Marion’s other love interest and Robin’s (kind of) rival. No merry men either…which sucks.
The decision of using religion and Church as the movies antagonistic device was lazy and uninspiring, as was having Robin (or Rob, as they call him here) be a literal superhero. No amount of arrows can harm him, but a scratch to the enemies leaves them bleeding out and six feet under. The never-ending supply of arrows aside, picking up the ability to be such an extreme marksman with a tiny bit of training is…something else (hint: bad writing). There was one horse chase scene which was actually very good and other moments were likeable, but it all led to a limp finale and a desperate scream for a sequel (does every movie need to set up a franchise nowadays?)
The marketing for Robin Hood didn’t inspire much confidence and the final product didn’t exude any. It just seemed half-baked and mediocre across the board. When the introduction tells you to “forget what you know”, it seemed more like a plea. Disappointingly average and the “gritty” spin came across like a gimmick. Stick with Costner. Hell, stick with Crowe…or the bloody animated fox.
November 27th 2018