UK Release Date: 21st November 2018
Runtime: 116 minutes
Director: Otto Bathurst
Writer: Ben Chandler, David James Kelly
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Eve Hewson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jamie Dornan, Tim Minchin, F Murray Abraham, Paul Anderson
Synopsis: When he returns from the Crusades, a nobleman discovers the Sheriff of Nottingham has declared him dead and seized his home, leading him to become a hooded rebel.
Last time we got a Robin Hood story on the big screen, it was Ridley Scott‘s deeply boring 2010 adaptation in which Russell Crowe played a schizophrenically-accented outlaw. Now, with Peaky Blinders director Otto Bathurst at the helm, Taron Egerton dons the famous hood in an attempt to make this particular tale as old as time something more young and hip. The result is a strange and rather flat action-adventure tale.
This take on Robin starts the film as a privileged nobleman who begins a whirlwind romance with Marion (Eve Hewson) when he discovers her stealing horses from his stable. He is sent to fight in the Crusades by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn), which triggers a bizarre sojourn into a world visually inspired by Iraq War movies like The Hurt Locker and American Sniper. When he returns home, he finds that the Sheriff has declared him dead and Marion has shacked up with activist leader Will (Jamie Dornan).
Soon, Egerton’s heart-broken Robin is approached by John (Jamie Foxx), who trains him to fire arrows up close or something and inducts him as the figurehead of a new movement. Robin plays both sides of his personality, spending his days as a noble ingratiating himself with the psychotic Sheriff and his nights stealing gold from the rich. The action sequences have a great deal of style to them, but they are let down by clunky exposition and risible dialogue, especially when a political conspiracy rears its head.
Mendelsohn delivers another of his memorable villain performances, smacking his lips with relish as he delivers Trumpian speeches about foreign invaders “choking the church” and threatening law and order. Only an actor as accomplished as Mendelsohn could pull off a threat to “burn their shit-slums to the ground” without it devolving completely into caricature. With that said, his intense performance seems mightily out of place in the context of the rest of the film, which is seemingly aiming for a more knockabout tone.
And it’s partly that which leads the movie to feel as awkward as it does. Aussie comedian Tim Minchin is trying his best as Friar Tuck, but he’s saddled with terrible dialogue about “speaking for the gospels” and gets very little room to develop his character and his own connection with Hewson’s underused take on Marion. When these characters all intertwine for the third act, the story very quickly runs out of momentum in a way that no amount of stylish action can paper over.
The problems with this film are so wide-ranging that the attempts to bring everything together simply illuminate the myriad issues further. The finale of Robin Hood is an utter mess that delivers frenetic action and mangled characters before delivering a late in the day twist that makes absolutely no sense and swaggers in to tease a sequel that no one wants. In that sense, it’s exactly like the Ridley Scott version.
Pop or Poop?
Taron Egerton’s boyish charisma and a snarling Ben Mendelsohn are not enough to rescue this new take on Robin Hood, which makes a series of baffling choices en route to producing a slick, noisy action-adventure that completely disappears in a tangle of its own decibels as we move into the third act.
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