I’m a sucker for Robin Hood films, to date I’ve loved every retelling of this yarn. There’s just something about the tell that is timeless and gets me every time. I’m not sure what people expect when they go see a Robin Hood film. I aspect a little romance and lots of swashbuckling this current incarnation delivers exactly what I want out of a Robin Hood film. The latest take on the classic tale, simply titled, once again, Robin Hood borrows heavily from the much hated 1991’s Kevin Costner’s Classic Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Personally, I loved the 1991 film.
Beat for beat I kept thinking of the Costner film. I’m not sure if it was done intentionally or not. But from the opening shot to the midway point it felt like a remake, then the middle portion of the film became its own thing. Jamie Foxx is the only actor here who felt like they had a real presence and stood out. Probably because was essentially the Morgan Freeman Prince of Thieves character.
Foxx is an Arab who decides he wants to go to England and cut the head of the beast off in order to stop the English crusades in his country. After Robin saves him and tries to save his son he thinks this is the Englishman that can help him. Robin is sent home after he gets injured in a confrontation with his commander Guy (Paul Anderson).
While Foxx is adequate the problem is with the two “leads” Robin and Marian (Eve Hewson). Taron Egerton doesn’t have an onscreen presence. I thought he was bland, but serviceable heading up The Kingsman series but instantly forgettable. He’s the same here, I’m not sure he had the gravitas to pull off a lead role like this. He’s good enough, but feels weightless and he has no chemistry with Hewson. I never once bought into the idea that these are great loves. I love that the producers took chances with the casting and didn’t cast super well-known actors but none of them were memorable.
Director Otto Bathurst, best known for TV series like Peaky Blinders and Black Mirror, does a nice job with this film. It doesn’t look as slickly produced as a Hollywood Robin Hood movie should be but it has a self-assured and competent feel to it. There’s not a memorable moment or shot in the movie, but for my money it still works. Not every film has to be bombastic and over the top or overly serious drama. The tone of this fits in the middle. The action sequences are competently done and Cinematography isn’t overly dark nor particularly bright either. It looks like how England is supposed to be.
As I said in the beginning the first ½ of the film feels really derivative of every Robin Hood story, but then it’s a movie based on a well-known property and that’s something you don’t like this isn’t the Robin Hood film to change your mind about the story. Halfway through the story takes some liberties and tries to be its own thing. The problem with this is, the reason it takes liberties is the disappointing ending made it clear that they want this to be a franchise and this is my problem with modern Hollywood films. Everything wants to be a “franchise.”
It tries too hard to be cute with everything going on and while it doesn’t feel like it’s a “setup” film until the last scene, it made me question what I just watched and explained some things like why some of the characters and their names weren’t made clear. For example, I kept waiting for Little John to show up and it wasn’t until the last moments in the film when I was “Oh, duh, the Jamie Foxx character was Little John,” and while I found the lack of Sheriff Nottingham’s obsession with Marion refreshing, the final scene explained why. But that final scene was terrible and felt tacked on. There was a clear point where this film should have ended and I would have left going that was a solid piece of popcorn Entertainment but the ending made me groan.
Robin Hood doesn’t strive to be anything more than it is, a nice little popcorn movie that you don’t have to take seriously and serves as a distraction to life’s outside worries, on that level it largely succeeds.
Final Grade B