Twenty-seven. Since Douglas Fairbanks first donned the green cap and quiver of Robin Hood in 1922, there have been 27 live-action Robin Hood films. One movie every three-and-a-half years, for almost a century, and yet they still get the formula wrong. What is so hard about the story of Robin Hood, a thief who steals from the rich and gives to the poor? This year’s “Robin Hood,” starring Taron Egerton, Eve Hewson, and Jamie Foxx, fails to give a good answer.
To quote Wikipedia, “[as a] hip take on the character’s origins,” “Robin Hood” attempts to modify the legend for a millennial audience, introducing Marian (Eve Hewson) as a badass with aspirations of revolution; John (Jamie Foxx) as an Arab stowaway originally named Yahya, who takes Robin under his wing; the Hood (Taron Egerton) himself as a youthful, sarcastic warrior who can take a punch. Sounds like a tasty mix, right? Wrong. It’s the recipe for a wasted opportunity.
A bizarre, Crusades-torn landscape at the beginning of the film sets the stage for the weakest action sequence I have ever seen: close combat in narrow alleys, yet every soldier on-screen is armed with a bow, not a drawn sword in sight. They do know bows are distance weapons, right? The trouble only grows from there.
The battle features automatic crossbows with bolts the size of beer bottles, a technology beyond the Third Crusades’ siege weapons. Yet the sheriff hand-writes every draft notice, not a printing press in sight. The medieval-punk aesthetic of the film is so outlandish to even its designers that the costumes and art direction were absolutely gutted. At least four noticeably store-bought beanies and one, likely more, vividly obvious hoodies indicate that the costumes were provided by Urban Outfitters’ Medieval Millennial line, not custom-made for the production.
It isn’t for me, but fans of Desiigner’s “Panda” will love Ben Mendelsohn’s mumblecore performance as Sheriff of Nottingham, if they can understand it, that is. As a veteran of speech therapy myself — I too was a chronic mumbler — it is my assessment that Mendelsohn should crack open a copy of “Enunciation for Dummies” before his next audition. He might make for an intimidating villain if it didn’t seem like he had a whole pack of Juicy Fruit in his mouth during every scene.
I nitpick, I know, but when the actual story is as bland and expository as this one, you find yourself looking at the little details just to stay awake until the movie finally ends. This film fails on too many levels to count: art direction, score, fight choreography, cinematography, and nonexistent character development. The film features a bargain-value adaptation of “The Dark Knight” on top of the Robin Hood formula, barely concealing a heavy-handed, heavily-political commentary on class disparity.
Despite all its modifications and updates to the canon, the film insists on reminding the audience, above all, that they are watching a Robin Hood film. Every metaphor, every impassioned speech, is inevitably archery-themed: “The youth are God’s gift to the Church. The arrows in our quiver,” from the diabolical Cardinal (F. Murray Abraham) stands out. We get it: Robin Hood’s an archer. That’s old news, trust me.
Robin Hood films are usually like chocolate chip cookies — tasty, predictable, likeable. This year’s Hood? That’s an oatmeal raisin cookie right there. Looks appetizing from a distance but when you take a bite, all you taste is raisins. 2/5, barely worth a nibble. That’s a bad cookie, bucko.