Some films should either never be remade or when remade, then should be helmed by the best director in the business. Otto Bathurst is neither the best choice to direct Robin Hood nor does he prove his credentials with a straight-forward film that tackles a legend and falls flat due to its inconsistencies. It is inspired by the 1991 version of Kevin Costner’s film but with additions that are criminally incorrect and immature at the same time.
The film revolves around the life of Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) who returns to England after fighting in the Crusades only to find his property seized and his lady love Marian (Eve Hewson) missing. With the help of his mentor Little John (Jamie Foxx), he becomes Robin Hood who decides to fight for the commoners and defeat the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) at the same time, in an attempt to win back his respect and Marian as well as rescue the people from the clutches of the Sheriff.
The film could have been so much better had the screenplay been mature rather than simple; the scene where Robin Hood makes an entry or the one in which Marian realizes that her ex-flame is Robin Hood could have been executed better.
Eve Hewson’s Marian is too beautiful and modern to be born and bred at the time of Robin Hood and same goes for the strict training regime that reminded one of the Rocky series from the 1980s. Some of the scenes featuring ‘The Hood’ were better filmed in TV series Arrow although Taron Egerton does a good job but not good enough it seems. The Robin of Loxley / Robin Hood act seemed heavily inspired from the Bruce Wayne / Batman saga with Jamie Foxx’s John as the Alfred to Robin.
And yes, the director must be held responsible for mixing the character of an Arab named Azeem (played in the 1991 version by a younger Morgan Freeman) and that of Little John (who was supposed to be anything but Little) just to save money. The two characters existed in the earlier version and could have been here as well but it seems that Yahya was made John in order to make the story racially relevant. Bad move as the film fell flat because of such inconsistencies; in fact, Robin’s backstory seemed fake as he was shown to be a Lord who was always love-struck and at home with Marian until their romance was cut short by the war.
Finally something about what could have been the highlight of the film – the action sequences. Although they are the only thing that stays with you after the film, it reminds more of Arrow the TV show or The Dark Knight trilogy than the legend of Robin Hood. Never before had Robin Hood hidden his identity from the commoners until this version where he robs from the rich first for Marian and later just for the thrill for it, until the Sheriff declares him a nuisance.
With not a single arrow shot where the camera traced the arrow like in the earlier Kevin Costner version or a swordfight between Sir Guy of Gisborne and Robin Hood that reminded the audience of Errol Flynn, this seemingly high-budget take on Robin robs the audience of some quality time. It would have been better had the producers just given the money to the poor ‘audience’ in the name of Robin Hood as that might have helped a few!