The latest iteration of Robin Hood is a monumentally bad film. I know I don’t normally start my reviews like this, but I feel it is only fair that I suitably lower your expectations in order to give you the best chance at any enjoyment from it. The film starts with a voiceover that explains that we should forget everything we know about the story, which I think is it’s way of doing the same thing.
The story here starts with Robin (Taron Egerton) briefly wooing Marian (Eve Hewson) before being drafted into the 3rd Crusade. Whilst there he meets and attempts to save the son of John (Jamie Foxx playing a variation on Morgan Freeman’s Azeem in Prince of Thieves). And then returns home to find his manor seized and Nottingham oppressed by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelssohn typecast as the villain). Whilst this presents slight variations on the well known story it is the design decisions and internal logic of the film that scupper any enjoyment.
Firstly, the creatives involved here seem to want to make a film with modern day characterisation in a period setting. It is as if they have set out to be purposefully anachronistic. The result is jarring to say the least. A scene set in the crusades has archers wearing odd armour that look like modern day vests whilst adopting modern military tactics. There are even weapons that try to take on the purpose of an RPG, but with arrows. Costumes throughout look like they have asked Burberry to design a line called Middle Ages Chic (perhaps Mugatu could sell it?). They even have the Sheriff and Will Scarlett (Jamie Dornan) making contemporary political speeches to people without a vote. I genuinely think they could have done a better job lifting the story into the now.
Secondly, the story decision to give Nottingham a mine that appears to have been directly lifted from Moria in The Lord of the Rings is surreal. This is now where the peasants from the city live, although it’s only purpose appears to be to allow slow motion billowing flames to be in the backdrop of action scenes.
Thirdly, the casting seems to throw up cliche rather than a cast that fits together. Egerton plays the same cheeky chappy he always does, failing dramatically to convince as a Lord, a war veteran and a thief. Hewson gets little to do and feels barely a character, let alone the strong woman we have seen in other Robin Hood stories. Foxx is hopelessly miscast as the sidekick and Mendelssohn is phoning it in as the villain. Even the comedy casting of Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck comes to nothing when he is barely in it.
And finally, the pivotal relationships between Robin and Marian and Robin and John fail. Egerton and Hewson have little chemistry and fail to sell the love triangle with Will Scarlett, whilst John’s motive for wanting to destroy Nottingham is tenuous and his relationship with Robin appears to be him saying he should be faster at firing arrows during a montage.
If there was even a half decent action scene in it I could at least say there was something interesting here. But there is not.