One of the reasons that Robin Hood (2018) is premiering 110 years after the first Robin Hood film, the 1908 film, Robin Hood and His Merry Men, is that some of the greatest actors and filmmakers have brought the character to life over the years with memorable moments and brilliant performances.
And that is the biggest problem with Robin Hood (2018).
Peaky Blinders and Black Mirror series director, Otto Bathurst has crafted a film that has a lot of good going for it with an extremely talented cast and a visually fantastic look. But the entire story plays out so fast that the briefest hints you get of how good this story could have been with the briefest hints of some truly great dialogue are hidden behind a pacing as fast as an arrow show from a bow.
Robin Hood (2018) sees a young British Crusader and his Moorish soldier return to England and mount an ambitious revolt against the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham. And the 100% only reason that this film works in any way is Bathurst shows a remarkable ability to cast for the character. A talent that works against him as you watch how goddamn good, perennial baddie Ben Mendelsohn’s Sheriff of Nottingham and Taron Egerton’s Robin Hood are together only to have their scenes cut short will only make angry.
There’s action aplenty in Robin Hood. Bathurst’s decision to teach Egerton speed shooting from the draw hand and the double draw (archery fan here) gives the action a unique look that actually works with the fast pacing of this film. Combined with the look of the film that’s one part period and one part contemporary, the action almost deliveries on entertaining if it wasn’t for the fact the fast pace of this story virtually eliminates any and all tension and conflict this film has. And any tension that’s left in this film is purely on apart of this cast being as talented as they are.
Taron Egerton continues to show the reason the next generation will speak his name in the same sentence with Michael Caine and Ian McKellen as Egerton and Bathurst create a Robin that isn’t cookie cutter good. It’s a Robin who doesn’t know who he truly is and uses doing the hood to figure it out.
As the old saying, every hero is only as good as his villain, you can get better in this day and age than Mendelsohn. When he addresses the public as the Sherif, you can actually find yourself believing that the Sherif believes this polarizing dogma he’s selling the citizens of Nottingham. This cast is both a gain to this film as much as it is a hindrance. Especially the scenes between Egerton and Mendelsohn as they bring out the best in the other with dialogue that shows just how dark the Sheriff of Nottingham is that ultimately has you asking where the hell did that come from.
Robin Hood has so much clear potential to be this tension-filled cat and mouse story between the Sheriff and Robin that it actually makes you angry about the film we got.
The story truly goes wayward with the inclusion of Jame Foxx’s Little John. Having met, outsmarted, and nearly killed Robin during the crusades, he follows Robin back to Nottingham after one small act of heroism and an incredibly thought out plan to steal from the Sheriff. Foxx takes an almost instant backseat with some truly terrible writing of a revenge backstory for Little John gets almost completely forgotten about.
Rising star Eve Hewson has to get credit for her role as Marian. With the incredible array of talent from Foxx, Egerton, and Mendelsohn, Hewson held her own and created a Marian when given the chance (and that didn’t happen a lot) she could hold the screen against any one of them.
Robin Hood represents the exact same lost opportunity that Dark Tower did early this year. A brilliant cast and a potentially strong story lost in favor of big action set pieces. It’s so frustrating at times that you won’t even be bothered by the baffling choice to create semi-automatic crossbows and have one of the largest action pieces in the film set in a mine that looks like a modern foundry completely with overhead crane and urn the size of a small house to hold the molten metal.
The cast can only do so much in a story that has as many problems that this film obviously has and is well worth 2 out of 5 stars. The only good thing, aside from this cast, that I can say is the film cuts a good trailer. That actually ended up for tension-filled than the actual film itself. If you want to watch a good Robin Hood film, Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner or Russell Crowe are more than capable of helping you out.