MATTHEW BOND FILM OF THE WEEK
C ert: 12A 1hr 56mins
Forget history, forget what you think you know,’ growls Taron Egerton’s long voiceover at the beginning of the new Robin Hood film. Which, of course, is just another way of saying this is a Robin Hood like we have never seen before. Or not since Russell Crowe’s so-so 2010 reboot, anyway.
Directed by Otto Bathurst, who honed his craft on TV’s Peaky Blinders, this is a freewheeling Robin Hood from the Guy Ritchie school of film-making – long on visual effects and ‘geezer’ acting, distinctly short of anything passing for historical accuracy.
It’s certain to divide audiences. Go hoping for something to stand comparison with Errol Flynn’s 1938 classic, The Adventures Of Robin Hood, and you’ll be disappointed. But accept that this is a commercial popcorn movie aimed at a younger audience and it’s rollicking good fun.
There’s a defining moment when Robin’s late-12th-century getaway wagon races through what is clearly a derelict 20th-century factory, complete with reinforced concrete pillars and steel cross-beams. You either find yourself crossly adding it to the list of historical inaccuracies that already includes machine-gun crossbows, quilted jackets and industrial-scale steel-making. Or you find yourself almost cheering and desperately hoping that Rob (sorry, it really is that sort of film), Marian (at least she’s not Maz) and staff-wielding John manage to escape.
To my surprise, I found myself in the latter camp, definitely not something I’d have imagined after an uncomfortable first 20 minutes when Nottingham has never looked less like Nottingham and Merry England more like Merry Somewhere Vaguely Mediterranean.
Set at the time of the Third Crusade, an 20 erratically toned screenplay sees Robin of Loxley, played by the likeable but youthfully blokey Kingsman star Egerton, wrenched away from Loxley Manor and his lovely new wife Marian (Eve Hewson) to fight the Moorish hordes. There he proves adept with bow and courageous of heart but with a terrible habit of always doing the honourable thing, like leaving no man behind or disapproving strongly of the summary execution of prisoners.
It’s this last belief that incurs the consid- erable wrath of his cockney commander, Giz (it takes an hour to discover this is short for Gisbourne), and gets him sent home on a hospital ship. But it earns him the undying gratitude of a stowaway Islamic warrior (Jamie Foxx) with an unpronounceable name whom he decides to call John. Ah, now we see where we are heading.
But after two years away, much has changed. Robin’s been declared dead and, in his absence, Marian is now liv-