- James Mottram
- 20 November 2018
The mythical outlaw is reborn yet again in an intermittently entertaining reboot that's elevated by its cast
Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe and now Kingsman star Taron Egerton have been cast as Nottingham's mythic outlaw Robin Hood. Do we need another retelling, just eight years after Ridley Scott's dour version with Crowe? To be fair, at least Otto Bathurst's film doesn't take itself quite so seriously and, in Egerton, it has a young, charismatic lead who will – for the most part – keep you engaged.
An origin story that tells how those Merry Men got together, it sees Egerton's Robin of Loxley return from the Crusades to find his possessions confiscated for the war effort by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn). With everyone believing he's dead, Robin's love Marian (Eve Hewson) is now being courted by rhetoric-spouting 'man of the people' Will Scarlet (Fifty Shades of Grey's Jamie Dornan, in a near-thankless role).
Robin teams up with Jamie Foxx's war veteran John in an effort to bring the Sheriff down and break up his funding of the Crusades, initially by learning how to shoot arrows very fast (cue a Rocky-style training montage) and anonymously robbing local government coffers. Nicknamed 'the Hood', a price is put on his head, but Robin also wheedles his way into the Sheriff's good books, donating to the cause with money he's just stolen from the treasury.
F Murray Abraham (as a corrupt cardinal) and comedian Tim Minchin (as Friar Tuck) both pop up pleasingly, while Foxx and Mendelsohn snarl and sneer their way through some choice dialogue. At nearly two hours, the running time stretches patience and the final act flags, with debut director Bathurst (a BAFTA winner for his work on TV's Peaky Blinders) preoccupied with big set-pieces featuring endless carnage. Recreating Nottingham as a Mediterranean-style city and dressing folk in incongruously modern attire also distracts. But, like its protagonist, the film gets in, gets out and, by and large, gets the job done.
General release from Wed 21 Nov.