The film could easily be called “Robin Hood: Origins" as it tells the story of Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) before he became Robin Hood. At the start of this movie Robin is an archer with King Richard the Lion Hearted (Danny Huston). One of the king"s right hand men is the knight Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge). When the King and Loxley are killed Robin takes Loxley"s name and heads back to England.
There he finds England in turmoil as Prince John (Oscar Isaac) takes the throne. John"s mother Eleanor (Eileen Atkins) tries to reason with her son to take the heavy tax load off the people of England, but he decides to make the burden even more severe. This leads to internal conflict at the same time the French are planning to invade England. All of this strife leads to amazing battle sequences. Meanwhile Robin is trying to help out Loxley"s father (Max Von Sydow) and his widow Marion (Cate Blanchett). The new Friar (Mark Addy) at Nottingham where Marion lives is also drawn into helping out, as are Robin"s buddies Allan A"Dayle (Alan Doyle), Will Scarlett (Scott Grimes) and Little John (Kevin Durand).
Director Ridley Scott ensures the story never becomes indigestible, peppering events with rousing action sequences that lead to a bloody conclusion on the beaches of Dover that is reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan as the waters of the Channel run red, bodies tumble into the churning seas and arrows come whizzing through the surface to maim the unwary.
Crowe is at his dogged best is ably supported by Blanchett, who plays a Marion not afraid to stand up to the men in her life or to wield a broadsword with the best of them. Von Sydow is touching as old Loxley, William Hurt gives a beautifully mellow performance as the noble Sir William Marshal and Mark Strong inherits the mantle of Basil Rathbone as an eminently hateble villain.
Robin Hood may not satisfy the purists who want the legend to remain intact, but for those just hungry for a great adventure Robin Hood fills the bill. It is a big, sweeping epic executed in a manner that makes all the spectacle and pageantry appear effortless.
Robin Hood: A gritty affair
Rating: 3 out of 5*
Starring: Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Cate Blanchett, Max Von Sydow and William Hurt
Director: Ridley Scott