Much like the previous attempt to reimagine this story in 2010 by director Ridley Scott, this attempt by director Otto Bathurst evokes the same “who the hell asked for this?” feeling that audiences felt nearly a decade ago. Instead of taking the grounded approach of Robin Hood (2010) or the parody approach of Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) – what we’re given here is what can only be described as action imagined by a 13 year old boy.
Robin Hood is exactly what you would come to expect from its promotional material – action packed, visually dense, and messy to the core. As this is Robin Hood you’re given essentially what is expected; yes he steals from the rich, yes he gives to the poor. However this particular story begins slightly differently from the outlaw we all know (and only some of us love). From the very beginning we’re thrown headfirst into a foreign land to justify the introduction of John, played by Jamie Foxx, a guide and mentor to Robin. He trains Robin to become an expert in thieving, archery, tactics etc. Director Otto Bathurst states “we were very passionate about making the archery historically accurate“, a statement which flatly loses any sense of meaning the moment the film begins its first action sequence. This film clearly isn’t trying to be historically accurate, emotionally intense, or whimsically charming – it’s trying to be entertaining and action packed. Whether audiences are provided that will depend on your standards.
Taron Edgerton is adequate throughout this film, providing little in the way of an interesting character. His recent dip into films like Eddie the Eagle (2016) made me hope that he would avoid these roles. Though he’s by no means bad I had hoped for something more charismatic from him. Jamie Foxx loses it on the accent, not his best performance. Ben Mendelsohn stands as the film’s big baddie. Mendelsohn is proving to be type-cast in many films as the mid tier baddie, this is no exception. He plays his role the same as he did in Ready Player One (2018) and – a slightly unhinged baddie with little to no mercy.
The production design in this film so desperately wanted to integrate firearms or modern weaponry that it simply couldn’t help but make machine gun crossbows or gatling guns that fire arrows at obscene speeds. The sets are no different, everything is overly stylized in an almost a dystopian way. From the dirty steampunk mines to the clean streets of the upper districts, this film’s mixture of styles is one of the most potent that Hollywood has experienced in the past years. We get silvery trench coats akin to something you would see in Blade Runner, black leather jackets that look straight out of Mission Impossible, and extravagant hairstyles that look ripped directly from the Hunger Games. Robin Hood masquerades as nothing more than a pale imitation of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), with even less substance to offer.
This film makes attempts to subvert from the traditional Robin Hood legend in order to make it “its own thing”, ironically resulting in the film devolving into a generic melting pot of Hollywood tropes and cutty special effects. Director Otto Bathurst seemed more concerned with drawing attention to its action sequences than lining up fun and relatable characters. A forgettable experience that I’ve already forgotten. Robin Hood strips the legendary folklore of its outlaw identity, opting for bizarrely stylized visuals and regurgitated Hollywood action sequences.