Robin Hood Review: A recurring sense of déjà vu grounds this Prince of Thieves
Egerton, who continues to play variations of his cocksure Eggsy from the Kingsman movies, seems to be more at ease as the Lord of Loxley than as Robin Hood
What is one common binding factor between Errol Flynn, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Russel Crowe, Rajinikanth and Prithviraj Sukumaran? —The legend of Robin Hood
Basically, here is a hero, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, and protects the weak from the strong and powerful. Or simply Batman, without a sad backstory about dead parents, a black bodysuit and a butler.
DC loves Robin Hood so much that they not only fashioned Batman out of the legendary outlaw, but also created another rich boy-turned-vigilante, Arrow, who seems to be a direct descendant of the legend, replete with bows and arrows. But, such has been the cinematic influence of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy that the 2018 Robin Hood, starring Taron Egerton as the outlaw, is more Batman than Robin(the name-switch is too close to be a coincidence). Even the Lincoln green gives way to a boring melange of blue and black.
Director: Otto Bathurst
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson
However, Robin Hood isn't exactly a grim origins story. It aims to be campy fun, which has its moments but doesn't hit the mark always as the action set-pieces, and dialogues — the lifeline of such films — is at best, average. The Otto Bathurst directorial, attempting to score high on style over substance, fails to create an emotional investment with any of the characters except the Sheriff of Nottingham, played with delectable maliciousness by Ben Mendelsohn.
The Sheriff is a bonafide supervillain, with a chilling backstory and works for the most powerful organisation in the world — the church. You first hear about him. You see his evil machinations. You then see him walking in slo-mo for a rousing score as he finally reveals his face. In contrast, Robin Hood is just present in a horseshed.
Egerton, who continues to play variations of his cocksure Eggsy from the Kingsman movies, seems to be more at ease as the Lord of Loxley than as the 'Prince of thieves'.
The film begins with the Crusades, where Robin of Loxley is drafted into the war. Initially being announced dead, Robin returns after four years to see that the Sheriff has oppressed the commoners of Nottingham, has seized Loxley Manor, and his love interest Marian( a radiant Eve Hewson) has moved on to be with Will (Jamie Dornan), who is the leader of the commoners. There is also a side revolt being planned by Friar Tuck (an underutilised Tim Minchin) and Marian.
Watching Robin Hood, I got reminded of Pa Ranjith's Kaala. Probably because it has dialogues where there are talks of cleaning Nottingham, and getting rid of the dirty people from the mines. Of course, there is a fightback, and at the centre of it, is Robin Hood, who becomes more of an idea, than an individual. An idea, which the people embrace when they fight against the tyranny — Katravai Patravai anyone?
I was playing a game of spot-the-original-idea mainly because the happenings on the screen fail to engage you for more than a few minutes at a time. An interesting training montage where Robin of Loxley becomes Robin Hood, is immediately followed by a lacklustre robbery sequence. While there is yet another well-orchestrated horse chase sequence in the narrow mines, and rooftops, it gets let down by distracting CGI.
Even the twists are clear from afar. When a menacing F Murray Abraham as the Cardinal with ulterior motives, joins hands with an unlikely ally, thereby setting up a sequel (if at all it is made); instead of rubbing your hands in anticipation, you rub your temples because a plot point from The Dark Knight makes an appearance again.
Somewhere in between borrowed plot points, and assured performances lies a Robin Hood that Otto Bathurst really wanted to make. But, as both Batman and Robin Hood are told, "It's not what we are, but what we do that counts."