Gung-ho ad­ven­ture breathes new life into le­gend of Sher­wood

Fingal Independent - - ENTERTAINMENT - ROBIN HOOD (12A)

The men are far from merry in di­rec­tor Otto Bathurst’s gung-ho ac­tion ad­ven­ture, which can­ters through the blood-soaked ori­gins of the English folk hero be­fore he gives se­ri­ous thought to rid­ing through glens or steal­ing from the rich.

‘For­get what you think you know. This is no bed­time story,’ booms a su­per­flu­ous voiceover nar­ra­tion which ac­com­pa­nies the der­ring-do on horse­back and dare­devil ac­ro­bat­ics in a by­gone Not­ting­ham torn apart by the un­holy union of state and church.

Ac­tion set pieces are rem­i­nis­cent of the As­sas­sin’s Creed video games, em­ploy­ing slow-mo­tion to ex­cess as lead­ing man Taron Eger­ton per­forms bone-crunch­ing som­er­saults while fir­ing ar­rows with his trusty bow.

Bathurst de­liv­ers some de­cent thrills with these high-tempo se­quences in­clud­ing a breath­less chase in horse-drawn carts chore­ographed to re­sem­ble the char­iot race from Ben-hur, and the ex­plo­sive theft of the Sher­iff of Not­ting­ham’s war taxes.

Away from the testos­terone-fu­elled destruc­tion, Ben Chan­dler and David James Kelly’s script al­lows Eger­ton to re­cy­cle his charm and swag­ger from the Kings­man films while co-star Ben Men­del­sohn em­braces the pan­tomime sea­son as a suit­ably slip­pery Sher­iff of Not­ting­ham.

Tim Minchin at­tempts to pro­vide comic re­lief as Friar Tuck but there are few op­por­tu­ni­ties to play for gen­uine laughs. The Sher­iff of Not­ting­ham (Men­del­sohn) is­sues a draft no­tice to Lord Robin of Lox­ley (Eger­ton) to fight in the Cru­sades in Arabia.

Dur­ing four gru­elling years away from his sweet­heart Mar­ian (Eve Hew­son), Robin is bat­tle-hard­ened by his ex­pe­ri­ences wield­ing a bow and ar­rows un­der Com­man­der Guy Gis­bourne (Paul An­der­son).

He wit­nesses bru­tal­ity per­pe­trated by the English against en­emy pris­on­ers and Robin de­fies his com­rades to pro­tect a Moor called John (Jamie Foxx), whose son is tor­tured by Gis­bourne’s un­der­lings.

Robin re­turns to Not­ting­ham in dis­grace and learns that the Sher­iff has falsely re­ported his death and seized his as­sets. A grief-stricken Mar­ian is now in the arms of im­pas­sioned com­mu­nity leader Will Till­man (Jamie Dor­nan), who speaks on be­half of the com­mon folk in their dis­putes against the Sher­iff.

Heart­bro­ken and en­raged by the hand that fate has dealt him, Robin trains with John to over­throw the Sher­iff, whose war taxes have im­pacted the poor­est in so­ci­ety. ‘Vengeance for you and jus­tice for my son,’ seethes the Moor.

Robin Hood is a solid and well-ex­e­cuted romp, which is clearly in­tended as the open­ing chap­ter of a fran­chise.

Eger­ton copes ad­mirably with the phys­i­cal de­mands of the lead role and he catal­y­ses a gen­tly sim­mer­ing screen chem­istry with Hew­son, who is squan­dered as the sole fe­male char­ac­ter with a voice.

Foxx snarls his lines as the grief-stricken men­tor, who trans­forms Robin into a buff killing ma­chine via a slickly edited train­ing mon­tage.

Un­like its dash­ing hero, Bathurst’s film doesn’t hit all of its in­tended tar­gets but it comes close enough to en­ter­tain for al­most two hours.

RAT­ING: 6/10

Eve Hew­son and Taron Eger­ton as Maid Mar­ian and Robin Hood in Robin Hood

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