If you’re looking for an action roller coaster that will kick your adrenal gland into overdrive then you’ve got to check out Robin Hood, because this is one medieval adventure that packs a serious punch and really hits the target with its thrills.
Returning battle worn from the crusades, Robin of Locksley (Egerton), finds Nottingham overthrown with corruption and vows to do something about it. Donning the hood of an outlaw he seeks to rob from the rich to give to the poor and bring about a revolution along the way.
You may know the legend, but you’ve never seen it like this before. Director Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders) takes the outlaw we have known our whole lives and does something different and the result is a film that is truly memorable and unique. His direction is focused on the hyper-real and on giving this film not only a gritty stylized realism, but also preserving the lore of the past that made Robin Of Loxley the hero that has enchanted so many for so long. It’s clear that for Bathhurst this film was a passion project that he just had to realize up on screen and it really shows with the finished product.
While Bathurst does amp the film up with his own stylistic sensibilities he does focus on what makes the legend of Robin Hood so compelling and this starts with its cast of characters including Robin Hood, Little John, Maid Marian, Will Scarlett and the Sheriff Of Nottingham.
For the role of Robin of Loxley, the man destined to become the outlaw Robin Hood, Bathurst lucks out with rising star Taron Egerton and the young actor is having a seriously awesome time here. Going from leisured lord to battle worn crusader, Egerton’s Robin is a man who jumps headfirst into the action and does so without looking. It’s a firecracker of a role for Egerton and as an audience member its great to see his transformation into a hero.
Egerton’s Robin is a character that likes to push things to the edge, but who is also possessed of a strong moral compass defined by attributes of courage and honour. Shocked at seeing his own people oppressed he transforms himself into an outlaw avenger who is quick on the draw and his with warrior mind and martial process is ready to cause anarchy on a high-end scale. Watching Egerton you can’t help but want to be him as Robin Hood and he was the perfect choice to bring this hero to life once more.
In every heroes journey the titular hero must find a mentor. Someone to train and guide them as they go on their journey to become a hero. For Egerton’s Robin that mentor is Jamie Foxx’s Yahya or Little John. A Moorish commander in the 3rd Crusade who swears to uphold a blood debt to Robin, John takes the beaten down nobleman and forges him into a warrior and thief for the people. Foxx is always the coolest guy in the room and that goes here too and he really revels in his role. As John he’s strong, focused and ready to rumble and has the stance and guise of a corner man who is ready to send his fighter out into the ring of combat. And alongside Egerton he also puts his mettle to the core and cracks plenty of heads along the way.
Every hero needs a reason to fight, some great love interest to motivate him and there never was a greater love interest than Maid Marian. As the heart of the Robin Hood story, Maid Marian was the one to always to be championing the wishes of the common people and that’s exactly where we find here with Eve Hewson. Not only is Hewson strikingly beautiful and possessed of a magnificent grace, but she really understands her character of Marian and her status as the voice of the people. But Hewson is no damsel in distress and she is willing to fight for her cause and put her life on the line for Nottingham. She also shares a great chemistry with Egerton and it’s easy to buy into the love they have together up on screen as Robin and Marion.
Jamie Dornan strides into Robin Hood as Will Scarlett, a central part of the legend here he gets an update to his character and it makes for some great drama. While Scarlett is normally portrayed as a somewhat arrogant member of the Merry Men, here he is resurrected as a political anarchist who is fighting for his people and ready to take to the streets to do it. It’s an interesting take for the direction of the character and I really liked Dornan in the role. He also gets into it with Egerton’s Robin and this makes things interesting up on screen and I’ll also say that the development and direction of Will Scarlett really makes things intriguing as we move forward into the story.
Finally Ben Mendelsohn brings a sinister edge to the Sheriff Of Nottingham and this thespian really makes the role his own. His Sheriff is a power mad bureaucrat who desires to have the people of Nottingham at his beck and call. In describing his performance I feel the word calloused is best used here and Mendelsohn makes for a great adversary to the Hood. Villains can either make or break a film and Mendelsohn’s presence in Robin Hood makes this film that much more exciting thanks to his sadistic mood swings and the battle of wills that he wages with his outlaw opponent.
If you’re seeking action….then you’ve come to the right place. Robin Hood is loaded with it and Bathurst and his team really go all out here. Arming Egerton with a recurve bow, the outlaw comes to learn the ropes of quick shooting and turns his bow skills into that of a machine gun as he runs amuck of the Sheriff’s troops, slamming arrows into them and robbing as much gold as he can carry. Egerton moves like a cat and his stance and guise is consistent with that of a fighter in the cage who is always moving forward against his opponent, added to this are his quickdraw skills and his aim rings true as he delivers plenty of justice for the people of Nottingham.
The action is kinetic and moves at a feverish pace and cinematographer George Steel captures all of its high velocity with lots of close in camera movement that reminds me of documentary war footage. Added to this is the quick cutting of editors Joe Hutshing and Chris Barwell and you have something tremendously exciting here. The action sequences here build off of each other, with each successive one growing more and more audacious until we reach the epic final chase scene which is shot with such ferocity that it will leave your heart beating uncontrollably.
Robin Hood is also incredibly rich in detail and Bathurt’s focus on the hyper-real makes this film an unbelievably enjoyable watch. Again this is a passion project for the director and he really delivers with absolutely fantastic costuming, sets that are built on a massive scale, kinetic cinematography, special effects that explode with energy and one hell of a thumping soundtrack. All of it will have you hooked from the beginning the film starts and you really get to feel the legend of this outlaw hero on full burst.
Audiences are in for one hell of a ride with Robin Hood and it’s one piece of cinema that doesn’t let up for a second. True legends live forever and you’ll learn why here with Robin Hood.
Image: Studio Canal