It has been a long eight years since our favourite outlaw of English folklore has graced our screens, but this prequel reboot of Robin Hood is nothing to get too excited about.

A friendly voice in the opening narration pleas with us to ‘forget history’, to ‘forget what you think you know’ – I suppose when recreating a story as familiar as this one, it fairs well to wipe the slate clean and create something original.

But for all of the stylistic enthusiasm of Otto Bathurst (who directed some episodes of Peaky Blinders season one), this world, modelled on contemporary concerns, is ultimately just lazy and confusing.

Robin, or Rob, as he is referred to in this film, returns from military service in the Middle East (a nod to the Iraq war, perhaps) to find that he is believed to be dead and that his house has been repossessed. Despite losing everything, nobody questions his seamless transition back into high society as toff Lord Loxley, throwing his money around and playing confidant to the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Not to mention the fact that most of the story seems to be set around a huge mine (what they are mining, we have no idea) – and an enemy Arab soldier (Jamie Foxx) who has somehow managed to make it back from the Middle East, weaving his way into an alien English system without a scratch on his back. It all seems a bit tongue-in-cheek.

One performance that stands out is Ben Mendelsohn as the Sheriff. He refrains from creating a caricature, which must be mightily tempting when faced with portraying a character with absolutely zero redeeming qualities.

Taron Egerton as ‘The Hood’ also puts in a good effort. His natural charm, which we came to love in Kingsman, makes for a likeable, albeit cheeky Robin. The unusual casting of a youthful and beardless Robin makes sense for the prequel setting.

It’s not the worst remake there is out there but it isn’t the best either. The ending suggests there are plans for another film to follow which, it must be said, is a tad ambitious from Mr Bathurst.

2 stars

Image credit: Movie DB


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