After surviving the crusades, Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) returns home to find he has been stripped of his home, his fortune and his Maid Marion (Eve Hewson). Setting his sights on the man who sent him to war, the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn), he becomes a masked thief, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. He does so with the assistance of Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin) and Little John (Jaimie Foxx).
Robin Hood feels like a Guy Richie film. It’s a similar attempt to reinvigorate a familiar story with CGI and gritty visuals. The action however is severely lacking in coherence or eloquence and the sense of fun is largely absent. The plot is awkward, with scenes abruptly ending or never even really starting. Entire sequences may be only three short shots.
There’s an annoying bluntness to the film’s narrative. There’s no nuance as the opening narration laboriously explains things we can plainly see happening. If a character is being duplicitous then we shall get a shot of their clenched fist behind their back. Characters lay out their plots and schemes solely for the benefit of someone overhearing them. Contrivance abound.
Some of the genre bending can feel a little comical. As we move from the gritty Black Hawk Down style war scenes with machine gun style crossbows to a clear Batman Begins pastiche, it only serves to highlight the aspects in which the film is lacking. This is especially noticeable when the film attempts comedy without the wit or grace to do so. Consequently the comedic talent of Tim Minchin is squandered.
There are some good qualities however. The production design is impressive and the medieval city of Nottingham is a visually interesting setting, especially it’s cathedral. The film also benefits from some enjoyablt camp performances, particularly the moustache twirling Ben Mendelson and an energetically sneering Jaimie Foxx. There is a surfeit of believability throughout the rest of the cast.
Robin Hood is an unimpressive historical action film that is using all of its bells and whistles to distract from the fact that it’s not actually doing anything new with the tired story. There’s no sense of fun and the result is often fairly embarrassing.