Director: Otto Bathurst
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn
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“Am I supposed to be impressed the good Lord Loxley has come down from on high to tell us, the peasants, what to do?” Otto Bathurst’s Robin Hood clearly sets out to blend historical lore with contemporary stylings, aiming to achieve a Make Robin Hood Cool Again mantle, but the film manages to miss the mark nearly every step of the way.
Starring Taron Egerton as an instantly forgettable incarnation of the titular hero, 2018’s Robin Hood is stunningly average in almost every category. Attempting to become the Batman Begins of Sherwood Forest, it’s effectively Wild Wild West for a new generation. Intentionally anachronistic, the two-hour origins tale wastes time and energy ignoring the moral conundrum of having a noble lord who is also champion of the people in order to focus on shootouts, car chases, and rocket-launchers – which are just as out-of-place as they sound.
Egerton himself is as bog-standard as expected but – along with newcomer Eve Hewson’s Marian – is lost in a sea of predictable dialogue and clockwork plotting. The two-dimensional writing and reckless focus on visuals manages to drain a excitement-inducing supporting cast of any real weight, wit, or woe in roles that could have offered all three. Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx is reduced to a sidekick, despite his character having a far more intriguing story than Loxley himself; go-to bad guy Ben Mendensohn momentarily drags his Sheriff of Nottingham into the third-dimension in one of the only redeeming scenes in the film; and Jamie Dornan’s Will Scarlet might be one of the most uneven characters ever put on screen, changing motivations to fill holes in the story whenever needed.
A few lines of dialogue here and there show that writer Ben Chandler might’ve had a good idea buried under all the ‘cool’ surface, but while the prologue promises a Robin Hood unlike any we’ve seen before, the following 116 minutes prove this a lie. It might even be more frustrating for possibly having an interesting story among all the Michael Bay-esque action sequences. Rounding off the story with a confusing epilogue surrounding Dornan’s Scarlet, it’s clear that Robin Hood could’ve garnered some likability with a little more complexity and courage. Bathurst’s telling of the tale provides little-to-no fresh ideas, and seems blind to the moments it could’ve improved. When it comes to robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, stick to foxes, Men in Tights, and Kevin Costner.