MATTHEW BOND FILM OF THE WEEK

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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-

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