After being sent to war for four years, Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) returns to England to find his home ravaged and his true love, Marian (Eve Hewson), gone. His only friend left is a Moorish commander he saved the life of named John (Jamie Foxx). They decide to take revenge on the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn), who conscripted Robin and is now taking from the people to finance the war effort, and liberate those suffering under his tyranny. Their plan is simple: steal from the Sheriff and give the money back to the poor.
In this latest telling of the Robin Hood tale, there are some departures from what we’ve seen before. In Taron Egerton, we have a younger than we’re used to seeing titular hero, while Robin’s companion/mentor, played by Jamie Foxx, seems to be a combination of Little John (his name being Yahya, which translates as John) and the Morgan Freeman character Azeem which we saw in the Kevin Costner-starring ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.’ There’s also an added element of suspense in that Robin has managed to become a major confidante of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) while stealing from right under his nose.
Egerton, best-known for the ‘Kingsman’ series and who will next year be facing his greatest challenge yet as he takes on the role of Elton John in biopic ‘Rocketman’, proves an affable lead once again. Foxx is also good, fierce and commanding in his role, and Irish actress Hewson – who reportedly won the role over a hundred other actresses – is also good, though she has little to do as the traditional love interest other than motivate our hero, say rebellious things to show she’s a ‘strong, independent woman’, and look pretty. More disappointing still is Mendelsohn who between ‘Rogue One’, ‘Ready Player One’ and this just seems to be rehashing the same character over and over again.
The action’s focus on archery over the standard hand-to-hand combat makes the movie that bit different, even if the CGI can be a bit dodgy. A chase sequence on horseback provides one of the highlights. The action can seem a bit tonally confused though, which is probably in part due to the movie being a ‘hip’ (the studio’s words) recreation of the Robin Hood tale. Sometimes, it feels like it’s keeping to a small scale in tandem with the medieval setting, and elsewhere its ‘modern take’ feels out of place, such as in certain wardrobe choices. The movie also appears to be trying to tap into a generation of ‘The Dark Knight’ viewers as its story of a vigilante with a rich, obnoxious alter-ego, who inspires the people and becomes its symbol of hope (Robin is referred to as ‘the Hood’, and hoods start appearing all over the city as a sign of rebellion), is veeeerrrrry reminiscent of Christopher Nolan’s superhero.
Though flawed, ‘Robin Hood’ is fun. It’s nothing spectacular and we’ve seen the story done better. However, generally speaking, it provides a fair, conventional, action-adventure frolic.