Otto Bathurst (director)
116 mins (length)
22 November 2018 (released)
25 November 2018
The tale of English folk hero Robin Hood is one of Hollywood's favourite narratives.
Over the years there has been Errol Flynn's classic The Adventures of Robin Hood, Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, or the most recent adaptation, 2010's Robin Hood with Russell Crowe, as well as more light-hearted takes such as Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
Even though it may seem that producers have exhausted every possible iteration, director Otto Bathurst, in his feature debut, has now brought viewers a film which explores the origins of the legendary figure.
Here we meet Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton), a young nobleman who presides over a huge manor in the medieval village of Nottingham, which he one day hopes to share with his love interest, Marian (Eve Hewson).
Yet, the drama kicks off when Robin is sent to fight for England in a vague part of the world simply labelled Arabia, with the intensity of the battlefield allowing him to hone his signature bow and arrow skills.
A heroic move sees him win the respect of Moorish commander Little John (Jamie Foxx), and a tragic circumstance forces the duo return to England - though Robin is only home for mere minutes when he discovers Marian thought he was dead and coupled up with Will Scarlet (Jamie Dornan), and that his property has been seized by the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn).
Angered by his own circumstances and that of Marian and their fellow villagers, who have been outcast to the mines by the greedy Sheriff and his cronies, Robin embarks on a fearless quest to even out the balance of power, with a series of chaotic action sequences ensuing.
Egerton brings plenty of enthusiasm to the role and particularly shines in the moments in which he demonstrates his archery skill. He shares a nice camaraderie with Foxx during some Karate Kid-inspired lessons, and while he tries his best with the script, as penned by Ben Chandler and David James Kelly, the lines aren't exactly memorable.
It's a bit grating how the majority of the plot leads up to the big reveal to the public that Robin is the so-called Hood, when of course, the audience has known this the entire time, and it's also quite bizarre that the character waffles on about redistribution wealth, but doesn't really demonstrate that much giving towards the poor.
Some of Robin's costumes, created by Julian Day, are odd too, with his cotton vests, leather jackets and loose leggings evoking H&M's menswear department rather than Sherwood Forest.
Egerton has easy banter with Foxx and the majorly underused Friar Tuck, as portrayed by Tim Minchin, while Dornan's character doesn't have a whole lot to say.
Predictably, Mendelsohn relishes playing the villain, and young Hewson goes full out with her performance, displaying a convincing amount of determination. She has the potential to carve out a career in Hollywood if she wants to.
In addition to offering up an origins story, Bathurst attempts to delve into topics such as the rich/poor divide, fear of the Other, post-traumatic stress disorder and the effects of child abuse.
However, such themes are so briefly glossed over that they don't offer up any lasting impact, and in the end, the toned-down violence and 12A rating make it rather difficult to pinpoint who exactly this flick is aimed at.