I really wanted to like Robin Hood. Like, real bad. Kingsman: The Secret Service hit me hard, at the right places. I mean, what’s not to like about the movie? Who can ever forget that iconic scene when agent Galahad locks up the door and handled the group of local thugs? Manners maketh man, right? But still, that astounding character and drool-worthy wardrobe aside, part of the credit of Kingsman’s success goes to Taron Egerton. You just can’t deny the young man’s charm.
News that Egerton will don the hood for an upcoming Robin Hood movie didn’t come as a massive surprise, given his credentials in Kingsman. Yet, the news generated much excitement, as the title carries so much weight, and we couldn’t help it but to code-name the film ‘Eggsy-Hood’. I was not worried whether the film can materialize, but rather, how, it will materialize.
From my limited knowledge of Robin Hood folklore, the earlier trailer indirectly promised intensely fast-paced bow and arrow action, and a maniac-looking Jamie Foxx. The plot follows the adventure of Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton), in which he was sent to the Crusades war, only to return home to find his love interest gone, and his manor seized. In the midst of all the confusion and heartbreak, he crossed path with Yahya/Little John (Jamie Foxx), who will ultimately mentor him to become the Hood and rise up against the corrupt Sheriff (Ben Mendelsohn). This, is pretty much a foolproof plot, having been retold countless of times prior with slightly different interpretations, but deep beneath the recipe are all familiar ingredients. The only catch to this 2018 iteration is that, it tried to be vastly different from the others. It tried hard to be unique. It wanted to be the rebel Robin Hood among Robin Hood’s. Did it pay off?
Immediately, the introductory part of the film already cast a heavy cloud of doubts, with its heavily rushed plot progression, that seems to focus on the redundant points but skimped on the crucial ones. As a person who is not well versed in the folklore, I wanted to know how Robin built his wealth, or where his family is, without digging into Google afterwards to shed some light. I was also curious about his days at the boot camp and how he learned some basic archery skills there. Clearly, the director ditched all of the above and refused to narrate more on that. Instead, what I saw was a desperate brat who’s taking advantage of a lady in need of help, and fast forward to four years later, he suddenly found himself with a huge moral compass in his hands. Coincidentally, important characters have just surfaced at that time, and because of Robin’s single noble deed, it shaped his unique relationships with them, only to be exploited by the plot further down the road. How convenient.
The second act of the film is perhaps the most presentable one, loaded with fast paced combat and Robin’s intense training scenes with his mentor, giving you that modern superhero film vibe, even though the need to turn a classic tale to almost a superhero movie begs for even more questions. The chemistry between Egerton and Foxx is the most evident during the moments of Robin’s apprenticeship under Yahya, where cheeky lines and humorous scenes are pretty widespread along the former’s transformation progress. Surprisingly, scenes intended for comedic service are executed in a confident manner and are, indeed, hilarious. Young rebel blood flowing in the film, perhaps? And yet, It started to feel as if the film was growing up with the ticking screen time, and was steering itself into the right track after the choppy introduction.
Then, the climax of the movie fell flat. I kid you not, it just went south in almost all the possible ways. Cringe-worthy kiss scene sneaked into a perfectly wrong moment, that was intended to bring serious consequences to the plot, possibly got the audience questioning whether they should take the film seriously instead. The everlasting sour feeling left in my mouth after the team up of an obviously dubious ally. The abrupt and anti-climatic fall of the villain. And believe me, after seeing the very last part (possibly a setup for a sequel), you will feel like running towards the cinema exit even if Thanos stands in your way. It’s like finally having the chance to end a boring, irrelevant sales talk by an incompetent guy, only to find his colleague rushing in and trying to start another similar, boring sales talk with you. No thanks. I’m getting outta’ here.
My deepest sympathy goes to Ben Mendelsohn. The man put up a praiseworthy performance as the Sheriff from the moment the villain appears, right until the end of the movie, that you can literally channel all your hate and love towards him at the same time. I noticed that the given scripts are a hit or miss among the performers. For the Sheriff and Yahya, their lines commanded more impact than, say, the ones uttered out by Robin or Marian, which are as shallow as the puddle of water by the roadside. Yes, even though the great Robin of Loxley supposedly had great oratory skills to convince the masses to join his cause. And ironically, as effortful was his performance, Mendelsohn’s character couldn’t lift the film, and went nowhere other than parading around in his faux leather coat that clearly does not belong to that era. And no, his outfit was not the only victim of the crew’s poor wardrobe decision. At times, it just seemed that Taron Egerton had just jumped into the set wearing whatever he wore from his high-school reunion party before that. Not to mention certain shady outfit like that white sweater worn by Foxx, which spots some purposely made holes in it, which are clearly an afterthought job to make the outfit look ‘authentic’. The modern-edge injection into the classic outfits, well, kind of flopped.
Addict Verdict, AV:
Beneath the attempt to present to you a classic film with a heavy modern twist, Robin Hood is rather juvenile in nature, and the director’s impulsive decision to include doubtful element into the scenes in numerous occasions is evident. Did I mention that Robin lives in a different world where swords were not invented and bows and arrows are used in close combat? Yes, it does offer some pretty zippy action scenes, and the brewing romance between Robin and Marian does pump-in loads of young blood into the film. But it is still not huge enough to patch up the massive holes in the film made up by the flat-ish plot, erratic cinematography, abrupt ending and that terrible aftermath scene. All in all, it’s a superhero-like version of Robin Hood that I didn’t saw coming, and I wish it never did. –The Film Addict