Robin Hood (2018)
Directed by: Otto Bathurst | 117 minutes | action, adventure | Actors: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Tim Minchin
It is now the 44th time that the story of Robin Hood has somehow managed to reach the screen. Not to mention the list of written works about the British legend. Hollywood doesn’t seem to get too vocal about the Nottingham archer, but maybe it’s time to leave the Hood on the shelf for a while. ‘Robin Hood’ is a striking example of chewed-up material, to which few new aspects are added.
That doesn’t mean this 2018 version is bad. The acting is solid, which is to be expected with the talents of Jamie Foxx and Taron Egerton, and the action is entertaining. It is also interesting to see how director Otto Bathurst depicts the urban battles during the Crusades in an unexpectedly modern jacket. The crusader bows only need to be exchanged for guns to create a scene that wouldn’t look out of place in a movie about Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, these positive aspects of ‘Robin Hood’ are not enough to captivate the viewer for two hours. The lack of character development and the obvious ‘good guys’ against the almost hilariously exaggerated ‘bad guys’ makes the viewer feel not taken very seriously. The pinnacle, or rather the low point, can be found in the character of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelssohn). Aside from a scene where, almost out of the blue, a backstory about the Sheriff is suddenly told, the Sheriff’s character can be summed up under ‘this man is bad and likes to blackmail people’. The moment that the director wanted to reveal his background and show the motivations of the Sheriff there is so forced that the effect is laughable. This problem isn’t just with the Sheriff, the other characters are so underdeveloped that the film as a whole suffers. Main characters don’t go through character development at all. Perhaps they learn archery in a different way than they could before, but otherwise little change can be seen. Given the limited experience of the screenwriters (for both writers this is the first full-length film in their careers, although David Kelly is also said to have co-wrote ‘Logan’ (2017)) this is understandable, but it is the makers’ fault. .
It is not inconceivable that viewers appreciate this film. The action is well put together, the effects and the acting are fine. However, the characters and story are so substandard that ‘Robin Hood’ isn’t worth the two hours. Despite the talented cast and the age-old story that continues to appeal to the imagination, Bathurst manages to deliver no more than an acceptable film. Perhaps the most comforting thought at the end of this film is the idea that a Robin Hood movie comes out about every five years. Hopefully the next one will be worth a look.