‘Robin Hood’ Review: A New Version Strains to Be Relevant

Posted November 20, 2018 2:40 p.m. EST

There have been a lot of movies made from the Robin Hood legend, and the 1938 “Adventures of Robin Hood,” directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, remains the best. Its 100 or so minutes just breeze by; although packed with conflicts and cliffhangers, there’s no sense of strain about it.

To contrast, “Robin Hood,” directed by Otto Bathurst from a script by Ben Chandler and David James Kelly, huffs and puffs right off the bat, expending a lot of energy to tell you this isn’t your father’s, or your grandfather’s, Robin Hood movie.

“I would tell you what year it was but I don’t actually remember,” a narrator semi-sneers early on. “Don’t actually care” would be more accurate.

Taron Egerton’s Robin of Loxley struts and pouts through his manor before being sent to the Crusades, where he stands up for the Moor who will become this version’s Little John (Jamie Foxx, who must have lost a bet).

On returning to England, Robin sets his sights on avenging the injustices committed by the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn as a kind of cross between Ian McKellen in “Richard III,” from 1995, and the guy from the Trivago commercials. Eve Hewson, who was so great on “The Knick,” is Marian, styled as if for a medieval Maxim shoot.

“They were young, in love, and that was all that mattered, until the cold hand of fate reached out for them,” the narrator notes of the couple’s early days, during which they are seen kissing while backing each other into a wall.

The plot is twisty in a perfunctory way, the action predictably explosive, the sought-after exhilaration nonexistent.

‘Robin Hood’ is rated PG-13 for predictably explosive action and themes. Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes.