This new Robin Hood unfortunately misses the target.
Synopsis: Robin of Loxley a war-hardened Crusader and his Moorish commander mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown in a thrilling action-adventure packed with gritty battlefield exploits, mind-blowing fight choreography, and a timeless romance. (eOne Films)
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, and Ben Mendelsohn
Writer: Ben Chandler and David James Kelly
Director: Otto Bathurst
Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 116mins
There’s probably no more common superhero tale than that of Robin Hood, the hooded archer who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Everybody pretty much knows the story and at least a few of its cinematic incarnations so it begs the question of the point of all of it. While it doesn’t justify its own existence, it even doubles down on it and fails which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. In the vein of 2017’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, this film takes some liberties with the story while attempting to modernize it in a way that was admittedly not as off-putting as the former though is still off-putting in different ways.
This adaptation acts an origin story of sorts, following Robin (Egerton) from his humble beginnings as Lord Robin of Loxley to his inevitable turn as our hooded hero. The problem was that it took a little too long to get there. What differs from this film and most other incarnations is this prologue of sorts. It saw Robin get drafted to war with Arabia as an archer by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Mendelsohn) and befriending Little John (Foxx) under less than ideal circumstances. This prologue was useless for the most part in terms of the plot as a whole other than a long-winded way to establish the fact that Robin and John had grievances with the sheriff.
What was happening back in Nottingham was far more interesting. To fund his war, the sheriff implemented what he called a war tax, continuously collecting from the people whether they can afford to or not. Without any recourse, the wealthy were fine but the less fortunate had no choice other than fall in line. It’s pretty easy to figure out what came next. To go after the sheriff, Robin and John would have to go for what he held most dear, his money. From there, the hood was born. Elsewhere in Nottingham, others were also plotting against the sheriff, however, they didn’t matter all that much. What was happening with the sheriff didn’t matter all that much either as his true motivations were glossed over as was the plot as a whole.
The plot was obviously building up to a showdown between Robin, John, and the sheriff so everything else was irrelevant, there was very little tension or suspense to be had, and the other characters weren’t developed enough to care. The sheriff was only developed to the point of being the comically over-the-top bad guy. Beyond the sheriff, there were other moments of unintentional comedy coming from the mediocre script. The modernization of the film was mostly apparent with the action sequences. While well choreographed and somewhat exciting to watch, the overactive camera and the excessive use of slow motion was distracting. Now Robin’s new costume has been highly publicized for arguably the wrong reasons. With this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the bad costumes didn’t end with him.
Despite everything else, the acting was still decent for the most part. Both Egerton and Foxx, as Robin and John respectively, did the best with what they had which was on the duller side. What was surely meant to be a showcase for the two actors didn’t quite succeed as well as what was intended as their chemistry left much to be desired. At no point did they ever feel right together. The character of John, or at least the way he was written, was completely useless to the plot whatsoever. In addition to this, Foxx was miscast for the role altogether. Meanwhile, Egerton brought his usual charm and charisma to Robin, still making him compelling to watch. Mendelsohn as the Sheriff of Nottingham was kind of a delight to watch as he hammed it up on screen to the point that it felt like he was in a different film.
Overall, this was a mediocre and derivative action film while also a useless new interpretation of a familiar character and story. The story this time around was underdeveloped, on the dull side, and took too long to get going but diehard Robin Hood fans and/or Taron Egerton and/or Jamie Foxx fans may find enough to enjoy here though in the case of the latter, he felt shoehorned into the film based on name alone. Can a film be a disappointment if expectations were already low to begin with? Now this film implies that there may be more adventures for this Robin Hood on the horizon, if it chooses to go in that direction, the filmmakers need to consider their decision carefully.
*Robin Hood opens in theatres on November 21st*