CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Robin Hood is way off target

23 November, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Eve Hewson and Taron Egerton in Robin Hood

ROBIN HOOD
Directed by Otto Bathurst
Certificate 12a

WE are warned by a voiceover that feels borrowed straight from The A-Team’s opening credits that this is nothing like previous tellings of the Robin Hood story. It is as if we are being pleaded with from the off to give this low-rent piece of film-flammery the benefit of the doubt.

Robin Of Loxley (Taron Egerton) is the man in green tights – or, more accurately, a series of outfits that look like Top Man are doing a line in Merry Men streetwear – and we join him as he quickly falls in love with feisty horse thief Marian (Eve Hewson, who has nothing much to do but give the camera some soft focus-style looks). Their domestic bliss in Loxley Hall is shattered when Robin receives his call-up papers from the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and drafted to fight in what suspiciously looks like a medieval version of the Iraq War.

We watch Loxley do battle in the Middle East as a Crusader. But it isn’t men in clanking chainmail with sashes depicting the cross of St George on a quest in the Holy Land: instead, they are kitted out in a mash-up of British army-style combat fatigues, a strange aesthetic that takes hold throughout the film.

While fighting abroad he meets Little John (Jamie Foxx) and the pair return to England to find his mansion ransacked, his beau with Will Scarlet (Jamie Dornan), and the evil Sheriff having told all that Robin is long-departed from this mortal coil (played with sad resignation by the usually excellent Ben Mendelsohn, as if he is apologising for following in the footsteps of the greatly missed Alan Rickman).

There is not much of a storyline to speak of: the Sheriff is plotting a plot, he is taxing the poor and funding a foreign war, and Hood tries to rally the peasants to support his noble cause, which consists of a scene where he takes to the stump a la Jezza in election mode and makes such a poorly written speech it is astounding the commoners don’t rush out and join the Young Conservatives en masse.

Such dialogue is just mere catch-your-breath moments between CGI action scenes, which are fairly inventive – at least the technicians involved in this production have brought some expertise to the job. It’s not enough to be a saving grace, nor is super comic Tim Minchin popping up as Friar Tuck. His attempts to offer light relief feel like they are from another film.

Above all, Hood is like watching someone else play a computer game, with platforms for characters to leap around on as they have a punch up, with a heart-sinking ending as we are set up for a sequel.

By signing up to this monstrosity, Egerton has managed to pull off a hat trick by appearing in three of the poorest films in recent memory – films that unwittingly speak of a crisis of modern British masculinity: he was the lead in the stupid, jokey, macho Kingsman duo too. They are films that are aimed at a neo-Loaded generation. They are immature, fantasist boy flicks that I would not want my teenage son to watch. What a time to be alive.

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