Courtesy of Summit Entertainment
At the start, Otto Bathurst’s unnecessary reboot tells the audience “Forget everything you know.” Gutting any respect you might still have for the thief who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. The sloppy voiceover borrowed from unused trailer footage predicts this isn’t the usual bedtime story, and it spends ten minutes beating the idea into our minds as if we didn’t know.
From that uneven opening sequence I knew 2018's incarnation of “Robin Hood” was going to drag. And just when things couldn’t get worse - Jamie Foxx jumps on screen sporting a thick accent that’s so laughably bad (picture a cross between his “Horrible Bosses” and “The Amazing Spider Man 2” performances - but terrible) - I’d like to think it caused two brave patrons to exit the theatre and never return. Honestly, I wished I’d join them.
Never finding the grittiness in the same vein as “Sherlock Holmes” nor a convincing reason for audiences to visit Nottingham for the umpteeth time, “Robin Hood’ suits up “Kingsman” breakout Taron Egerton as the arrow slingling crusader who never becomes the hero we deserve. Struggling at every corner, screenwriters Ben Chandler and David James Kelly never define The Hood or make him an interesting character worth rooting for. Hell, they can’t even decide what year this film takes place.
The only inspired moments come from earlier scenes that gives the likable Egerton his spark. Briefly, we’re given an insight into his moral code. Before he was a slave to the King’s army, he was the Robin of Loxley (what his lineage means slips between the cracks). He battles alongside an array of soldiers on the front lines, throwing themselves at the mercy of war. Rob sees the injustices amongst the common people and vows to fight for the needy.
Foxx is Hood’s trusty sidekick Little John, who, in this narrative, can shoot three arrows per second, watches his son get slaughtered, and then stows away on a ship cruising for London. With all those beefy characteristics in your corner, it’s maddening that Foxx can’t make it work. Marking a career worst for the Oscar winner.
The thin veil Kelly and Chandler do showcase involves Jon and The Hood thwarting the Sheriff’s money laundering palooza. A ponzi scheme that climbs as high as the Cardinal of the church. But to accomplish that, Rob must first earn the trust of the dastardly Sheriff. Don’t worry, the lack of character development allows that relationship to take shape in under five minutes.
Either way, “Robin Hood” is generically the same in any capacity you remember. Thus removing the justification to revamp his destiny. Despite Ben Mendelsohn hamming it up as the Sheriff - giving this lifeless action feast spurts of life - it’s not enough to elevate any stakes. Characters wander around (“Fifty Shades of Grey’s” own Jamie Dornan looks confused) and Bathurst can’t decide how to handle the romantic subplot involving Rob’s wife Marian (Eve Hewson). Save that Egerton and Hewson are devoid of any chemistry, they look bored.
Poor digital effects and sound mixing punctuate “Robin Hood’s” arrow into the coffin, and we should hope this film isn’t financially successful so it can’t deliver on the potential franchise it promises before the closing credits. This is one storybook that should remained closed.