Robin Hood (2010)

Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is an overlong bore that has absolutely no reason to exist or to be called “Robin Hood.” It doesn’t feature the character that has been engraved in our minds, nor does it even seem to be leading up to one, save for the final scene in which our lead character finally starts to think about the idea that robbing from the rich and giving to the poor might help out some people. It’s an origin story that lasts for the better part of two and a half hours, and I just don’t see a reason for you to see it.

Because Ridley Scott likes Russell Crowe, he cast him as our titular hero, a crusader who abandons king and country after King Richard passes on in battle. He takes his band of loyal minions with him, although he eventually abandons them in order to assume the identity of the son of Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow), Robert. Why? Because he’s given the chance to own the old man’s sword, which was stolen by his actual son who is now deceased. Oh, and since the son was married to Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett), Robin has to act like he’s now married to her, in order to keep up the illusion.

Of course, they’ll eventually fall in love, because that’s how these things work. “Hey, your husband died in battle. Let’s become lovers.” It does take time thankfully, and since her husband wasn’t home a whole lot — the villagers don’t even question when Robin tries to take his place; they instantly think that he’s Robert Loxley — I suppose it can make sense that she’d grow to like him, and he to her.

What happens after this? Some action-y stuff, I think, some of which involves Mark Strong, playing the henchman of the new king, John. Strong plays our villain, Sir Geoffrey, and I think he wants to stage a coup, or perhaps he just wants France to invade England. It’s something like that; I wasn’t entirely clear on what was going on for most of the film. The plot is so unfocused and so many events don’t add up to much that the point of all this was lost somewhere in the jumble.

If you were to ask me the reason for watching all of this, I would answer by suggesting that it was done to set-up a sequel that may never come. I’d like to see Crowe’s Robin actually go through the whole “steal from the rich, give to the poor” routine that is ineffectively established here, although if it happens to be as boring and as much of a mess as Robin Hood is, I’d prefer that film to never be made. This is a tedious watch that’s difficult to get through simply because of how unimportant and dull everything feels.

There is, eventually and after two hours of boring plot lines that go nowhere important, a big battle taking place by the sea that’s supposed to be a fantastic climax. Had I cared one iota about the events preceding it, I probably would have enjoyed this battle. From a technical standpoint, it’s a great battle filled with tons of people, some exciting set-pieces, and is shot and edited in a way to let you see everything important. But I had trouble focusing on it. The watch on my wrist was more exciting.

Sometimes, these things happen. Ridley Scott is a very good director, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and Mark Strong are all good actors, the budget was high enough for them to have all the freedom that was needed, and this genre was a success for Scott in one of his previous films, Kingdom of Heaven (after his version was released on DVD and was way better than the cut the studio approved for theaters). It all should have worked, but this is one of the least interesting films that I can remember seeing from Scott.

While I think not calling the film “Robin Hood” might have lessened some expectations — we know what to expect out of a film with that title, and since that isn’t what we get here, we’re automatically disappointed — I don’t think it would have helped all that much. It’s still a mess of a movie from a narrative standpoint, and it has nothing whatsoever to latch onto. No characters, no situations, and not even enough action sprinkled throughout to keep the attention of those expecting an action movie. There are only a couple of big action scenes.

If Russell Crowe was 10 to 15 years younger, maybe this story would have made a bit more sense. I could see an origin story with a younger actor, but Crowe looked at least 40 and Robin starting his crusade against the rich at that point in his life seemed to me to be a bit of a stretch. Crowe might have been miscast here. He’s a very good actor, and he was fun to watch, but he’s not a Robin Hood.

Robin Hood is a film that needed to take a different direction. It didn’t need a different director, and it didn’t need a different cast. It needed to not be about Robin Hood — not that it was, anyway — and it needed to take on a different story. The whole thing was muddled, confusing and unfocused, and ensured that the few strong moments were lost in the shuffle. This is an origin story with a 40+ year old actor in the lead, and it doesn’t work. It wants to set-up a possible franchise, but I only hope it stops right here and now. Please, someone in Hollywood, have mercy.

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