Taron Egerton as Robin of Loxley; Jamie Foxx as John; Ben Mendelsohn as Sheriff of Nottingham; Eve Hewson as Marian; Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck; Paul Anderson as Guy of Gisbourne; F. Murray Abraham as The Cardinal
November 21, 2018
Robin of Loxley is what some might call a toff, a pampered nobleman living in and about the realm of Nottingham, England. He has all he needs, except for, oh bother, a beautiful lady with whom to share it.
But hold on … a buxom female thief soon comes a-crawling through his window one night and fills that particular vacancy quite nicely, thank you.
After just a dash of flirtatious banter, a kiss and a squeeze, Robin and Marian fall in love. Why, she even has a social conscience, of sorts. And she easily transitions from sneaky thief to a fulsome Miss of the Manor who has a heart for the poor. That’s the kind of lady Marian is. And theirs is a romance for the ages.
Ah, but the far less-than-noble Sheriff of Nottingham has other non-kissy things in mind for Robin. He wants some space between himself and the local nobles so that he can concoct his plans for an ultimate Death Star … well, a medieval version of something like that, anyway. So the Sheriff drafts young Robin into the army and sends him off to fight, and hopefully die, in the Crusades.
However, Robin proves himself more ethically upright and skilled with a bow than anyone might have guessed. In fact, he’s strong and honorable enough to stand up to his superior officer and to fight against that man’s torturous ways—a choice that earns him the respect of an Islamic warrior in that far-away Arabian land.
Robin returns home to find all his possessions seized, his manor ransacked and his beloved Marian in the arms of another man. (More on that turn of events below.) And it’s all due to the wicked machinations of Nottingham’s Sheriff —who, for some reason, has the power of a king though he isn’t one.
What is poor Robin to do?
Well, remember that Islamic warrior? He somehow follows Robin back to England and offers to train him to be truly skilled with the bow, truly evasive, truly clever. Together, they can then upend the Sheriff and his evil ways.
Robin will play the role of the simpering Robin of Loxley by day and steal by night as … Zorro!
No wait, that’s wrong. He’ll dress up as … the Green Arrow.
Hold it, that’s not right either. It’s a green hood … and he’s a thief, uh, yeah! He’ll be Robin … Hood!
Boy, this fighting for justice stuff can be difficult to get right.
Robin, of course, takes his principled stand against the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham. And though the film’s dialogue can certainly seem hackneyed and cliched at times, Robin nonetheless encourages others to stand against wickedness. And other characters use phrases such as, “You’re only powerless if you believe you’re powerless,” and, “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” Ultimately, Robin strives to motivate those who’re downtrodden and oppressed to resist the tyranny, injustice and evil governance of the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Along the way, we see many moments when Robin, his Islamic friend (named John) and others make self-sacrificial choices to achieve that end. For instance, they give themselves up at one point. They face a horde of enemies alone to save the lives of others. Robin fights to keep a young man from being tortured and killed, and he receives an arrow to the side for his troubles. He also battles overpowering forces in an attempt to save a wounded friend who’s been left behind by others.
Besides the Sheriff, the biggest source of evil in the film is a particularly nasty Catholic Cardinal … and the Catholic Church itself. It’s revealed that the Church (in England, at least) is the force seeking to oppress and exploit the commoners and the poor, confiscating what meager “wealth” those poor people have.
And that aforementioned Cardinal is even trying to undermine the Church’s forces in the Crusades for his own selfish ambition, driven by his insatiable desire for more power and control. “Fear is the greatest weapon in God’s arsenal,” the vile Cardinal proclaims. “It is why the church concocted Hell.”
A humble monk, Friar Tuck, pushes back against this kind of thought. He believes that fighting against the Sheriff and the Cardinal is the equivalent of “undoing the devil’s work.”
Friar Tuck also quotes Scripture when he confronts the Sheriff of Nottingham’s ruthless ways: “Isn’t it the Christian thing to turn the other cheek?” he asks. To which the Sheriff responds, “How do you love a God who gives you that kind of faith?” “I can only speak for the Gospels,” Tuck states. Nottingham warns, “Never forget, God is up there. I’m down here.”
The Sheriff tells a story of being abused by churchmen (and others in power) as a boy. He also threatens John, who’s a Muslim, saying that he will torture him by gorging him on pigs blood.
Other characters make some spiritual references as well. John tells Robin, “You’re as slow as the Second Coming.” And he says at one point, “A man without faith is lonely.” Someone declares, “I am God’s true soldier.”
Marian often wears clothes that reveal quite a bit of cleavage. We see her kissing Robin, and later, another man named Will. Marian is with Will at that point because she mistakenly believes that Robin had been killed in the Crusades. It’s also suggested that Marian lives with both men out of wedlock.
During a party that one person calls an “orgy,” women wear cleavage-revealing dresses; they’re squeezed and grabbed suggestively by various men. (Everyone stays fully clothed.)
Both Robin and John are seen shirtless and dressed only in their long johns.
This is a film of horseback battles fought with bows and arrows and knives. Though mostly bloodless, throats are slashed and arrows punch through chest armor. Men and beasts die by the score. Horsemen race up an elevated structure and fall off, the animals screaming to their death. We also see horses riddled with arrows and men shot through the eyeholes of their helmets. In fact, the arrows launched from any given bow are incredibly powerful, punching holes in everything from armor to rock walls with loud percussive thunks.
Larger, more advanced weapons fire a quick volley of arrows like a medieval Gatling gun or blast a mass of stout projectiles simultaneously, almost like a bazooka. These industrial-strength arrows will rip through nearly any surface.
A man has a rope wrapped around his throat and is yanked forcefully into the air. We see him hanging, dead, in the background. Lit containers of oil yield an explosive storm of flames, like a Molotov cocktail. A man is caught in one of those fiery moments; he survives, and we later see him with about a third of the flesh on his face seared away. Men are tortured and beheaded (just off-camera).
John has his hand lopped off in battle. He then jams the bloody stump down into the flesh-crisping heated metal of a prosthetic covering. Robin is shot with arrows several times. In one case we see that the legs of his long johns are covered in blood. Women get pummeled about in several scenes, too. Marian is slapped to the ground by an angry man.
Crude or Profane Language
Three or four s-words join a couple uses each of “h—,” “d–n” and “b–tard.” God’s name is paired with “d–n” once. And people say “p-ss” a few times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Various characters drink goblets of an alcoholic beverage. A celebration at the palace features score of partiers gulping back (presumably) ale or wine. A depressed Robin swills from a bottle until John stops him for his own good.
Other Negative Elements
People gamble at gaming tables during a palace party. Innocent villagers are repeatedly pressed for whatever money and valuables they have by the Sheriff’s armored soldiers.
We all know Robin Hood’s story. But this film has little to do with that familiar tale of Robin of Loxley, the hero/outlaw from English folklore. In fact, the movie tells us as much at the outset, declaring, “Forget what you think you know.”
Instead, the latest take on this classic character offers an empty appropriation of Robin Hood character names and slaps them on people in a mishmash of derivative fantasy storylines: a little Zorro here, some V for Vendetta there, a bit of Green Arrow here, a dash of Star Wars villainy there. On and on the patchwork jumble rolls.
There are quite a few well-designed sets to gaze at, with attractive actors manning them all, of course. There are a lot of racing, tumbling and screaming horse battles, as well as the most percussive, bad-guy-impaling, machine gun-like, arrow-spewing contraption you’ve ever seen. Then of course we’ve got myriad combatants riddled with projectiles, set afire with flaming oil and knocked off high platforms.
But an interesting story? A film worth watching? An inspired take on a classic hero? Apart from Robin’s occasional heroism, not so much.
There’s a particular theory that suggests if you gave a room full of monkeys typewriters and enough time, they’d eventually type out the text of Shakespeare. The metaphorical “monkeys” who wrote this pic were obviously not stowed in that room long enough. But they’ve left the door open for a sequel.