You cannot help but have high expectations for this film: Ridley Scott directing an Oscar-laden cast with almost no budget constraints. Maybe that was the problem. Sometimes artists work better with limits. Here we have a no-holds-barred, gritty retelling of the origins of the Robin Hood legend. That, or we have an illogical, irrational, inconsistent non-telling of a story where the only rich getting robbed are the people at the box office.
At the end of the 12th century, England is on the brink. King Richard is taxing the citizenry into poverty to fund his crusades, and everything is in short supply. When Richard dies in battle, the requisite infighting and conspiracies ensue and the evil Godfrey (Mark Strong) plots to weaken the new king’s position to make England vulnerable to invasion by the French. Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), an archer in the English army, goes to Nottingham posing as a dead nobleman to join forces with Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow) and Marion (Cate Blanchett) to thwart the invasion and save the country.
Honestly, I gave myself carpal tunnel looking at my watch in this movie—there are that many continuity flaws and plot holes. And the big reveal of Robin’s legacy is a virtual non-event. It almost seemed to me Ridley Scott got so caught up in the epic that he forgot what makes a story an epic: engaging characters and story. Moreover, we see nothing of the philanthropic outlaw that made Robin Hood a legend in the first place. The film ends with the stirring words, and so the legend begins—a lot of good that does. This movie is grand and sweeping and epic. It is also forgettable.