Director: Otto Bathurst
Writers: Ben Chandler and David James Kelly
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn
After returning from fighting abroad, Robin of Loxley (Egerton) joins forces with his former enemy commander John (Foxx) to launch an audacious attempt to overthrow the treacherous sheriff (Mendelsohn) of his home city of Nottingham and give power and wealth back to the poor of the city.
I know I am very late to the party when it comes to reviewing this, but for those few of you that haven’t yet seen it, I feel that I have a moral duty to warn you against even contemplating wasting your precious free time on watching this latest cinematic outing for Sherwood Forest’s most famous resident.
It would appear from the migraine inducing editing and direction, the casting and the rather bizarre set and costume design that all involved were trying for the same approach as Guy Ritchie did with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword by trying to do something fresh and different with a very well known story and possibly introduce it to a new generation. Well, if that was the intention or not, all involved have achieved the same result as Guy Ritchie in that they have put together a film that is a laughable, nonsensical mess that I expect to be forgotten about very quickly indeed.
It is an initial premise that has potential, and the cast list is certainly strong; Taron Egerton has proven to be a very likeable and charismatic leading man that can certainly pull off roguish charm, Jamie Foxx is usually a solid performer, Ben Mendelsohn has played a villain more times than most people have had hot dinners and Jamie Dornan loves to keep things intense. Oh, and legendary Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham is in it as a villainous man of the cloth!
In all fairness the cast do a decent job (even if the accents are all over the place) and deserve particular praise for managing to keep a straight face throughout the story, as some of the dialogue they have to spout out is cliché-ridden, clunky nonsense. Meanwhile both the plot and setting truly do boggle the mind as neither make any sense whatsoever with a feeling that the set pieces (which are not very good either) were written first, with the overall plot to tie them together written afterwards. Robin is of course a myth, so this allows for a few liberties to be taken with certain narrative developments, but this new Robin Hood really does take the biscuit with having no real care for logic or any actual genuine character development. The writers just take the liberty that as these characters have famous names and are already known for being a hero or villain and having certain relationships with one-another, so none of their actions or motivations have to be actually justified or explained.
Meanwhile, the actual setting of the film is so beyond confusing, it is basically the least cool or interesting version of steampunk imaginable. The weaponry is the same as any other Robin Hood film, but Nottingham itself is like some grey and square futuristic dystopia, but not in an actual good or interesting way. I believe this has been commented on by others, but for some reason characters are mining (!) and the whole opening sequence showing our hero fighting seems to have a modern setting, but with just bows and arrows. Meanwhile the costume design is just bizarre and looks very, very cheap. Perhaps everyone involved was trying to make the whole thing ‘timeless’, which in itself is an interesting idea, but when a film misses the mark just as catastrophically as Robin Hood does, then it will not take any time at all for this cinematic detritus to be forgotten about very quickly indeed.
A cinematic depiction of a migraine; Robin Hood is a visual and narrative cacophony that doesn’t even seem to try and make sense. Though it may produce a few unintentional laughs, it is certainly one to avoid.