MOVIE REVIEW: New Robin Hood saved by Mendo going mental
ROBIN HOOD (M)
Rating: Two and a half stars (2.5 out of 5)
Director: Otto Bathurst (feature debut)
Starring: Taron Egerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan, Tim Minchin, Eve Hewson.
Always draws a long bow, but often lacks aim
This umpteenth run-through of the ancient Robin Hood legend (spoiler alert: he robs from the rich, and gives to the poor) gets a reckless remixing for modern audiences.
What emerges is one never-ending mood swing of a movie, excitingly overblown one minute, and erratically underdone the next.
Taron Egerton (the cheeky upstart from the Kingsman flicks) is Robin of Loxley, a spoiled toff drafted against his will to fight for England in the Crusades.
The extended combat sequence that establishes Robin's athletic proficiency with a bow and arrow is a true highlight of the film, with first-time director Otto Bathurst staging the chaos and carnage like a 12th century version of American Sniper.
It is also here, while his company must brutally deal with their prisoners of war, that Robin makes the acquaintance of a fearless enemy soldier named Yahya (Jamie Foxx).
Once back on home turf - with Yahya inexplicably trailing close behind - Robin is mighty peeved to learn everyone thought he was dead, and that some have taken unfair advantage of the situation.
Now a subversive man of the people, Robin plots his revenge against the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn having a hell of a hammy time of it) while winning back his ex-girlfriend Maid Marian (Eve Hewson) from the clutches of her new boyfriend (Jamie 'Fifty Shades' Dornan).
Had Robin Hood more or less stopped the plot right there, it would have had less problems to deal with in the long run.
Unfortunately, the inclusion of a raft of naff secondary characters (including an awfully miscast Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck) and an annoying subplot about how Robin acquired his 'Hood' moniker sends the movie down a number of narrative dead ends.
By virtue of Egerton's selective appeal as a leading man - his performance here is like Sam Worthington under the influence of too much coffee and not enough sleep - it is left to a grandstanding, self-parodying Mendelsohn to reverse Robin Hood out of trouble whenever he can.
Overall, the well-crafted action sequences of Robin Hood have a wacky intensity that might win you over sometimes, but a scrappy, pappy story will almost certainly lose you over and over again.