The Movie Guru: Taron Egerton, Jamie Fox not enough to save ‘Robin Hood’
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What: “Robin Hood.”
Rated: PG-13 for extended sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive references.
Screenplay by: Ben Chandler and David James Kelly.
Story by: Ben Chandler.
Directed by: Otto Bathurst.
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Jamie Dornan, Eve Hewson, Tim Minchi Anderson, F. Murray Abraham and more.
Grade: One and a half stars.
When you try to do too much, you usually end up not getting any of it quite right.
Despite the bountiful charms of its two leads, the latest version of “Robin Hood” to hit theaters is hampered by the fact that it can’t decide what kind of movie it wants to be. Is it a fun, sexy, little action movie? Or is it a timely call for the common people to rise up against modern political corruption? The movie can’t seem to decide, and because of that, it isn’t very successful at telling either version of the story.
This movie starts a bit earlier than most tales of Robin Hood, giving us a brief, overly-narrated look at his and Marian’s meeting and sexual compatibility. Then he gets drafted into the Crusades, earns the trust of a Moor whose name conveniently translates to “John” in English, and comes back to England to find that he was declared dead two years ago. His possessions are gone, his manor is destroyed and Marian has hooked up with Will Scarlet in his absence. Crushed, he lets John talk him into a revenge plot that has the potential to bring down the wealthy leaders who oppress the people to get more power.
Parts of the movie are fun, or look like they’re at least trying to be. Taron Egerton gives his all in that regard, playing the cheeky action lead he does so well to the hilt. The movie doesn’t actually give him that many one-liners, but he does the most he can with every single one of them. I imagine if he’d been allowed to ad-lib more, we might have ended up with a better film. He and Foxx’s banter also shows moments of real promise, and I now yearn to see them team up in a movie with a much better script — or at least one that cared about character development and interaction as much as it does fight scenes.
Little More than a Mess
The movie is packed full of such scenes, and while there’s nothing wrong with them there’s also nothing particularly interesting. Egerton looks fantastic shooting a bow, don’t get me wrong, but at least some of that time could have been better spent elsewhere.
One place could have been useful was letting the movie sort out what it really wanted to do with the political angle. Underneath the gratuitous fire spouts and chase scenes are moments when the movie comes awfully close to calling for revolution. That angle could make for an absolutely fascinating version of a Robin Hood tale, but not when the movie keeps getting distracted by the dull love triangle or debates on faith. The movie ends up being little more than a mess, with tonal shifts that range from confusing to upsetting.
Hints of a better version of the movie can be found in Foxx’s performance. He handles some of the movie’s more intense moments beautifully and the idea of him leading a revolution is totally believable.
Sadly, that doesn’t hold true for nearly anything else in this version of “Robin Hood.”
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.