The pairing of Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott is always a winning ticket. The new film “Robin Hood” looks and feels a lot like “Gladiator,” and that’s a good thing given its huge success. In their fifth collaboration, Scott and Crowe give audiences what they want in a movie: action, romance and a folk hero who fights excessive government taxation.
Crowe’s Robin Hood doesn’t don tights, isn’t very merry and hasn’t gotten around to robbing the rich. In fact, Scott’s version is a prequel to the legend. It begins with Robin returning from the Third Crusade shortly after the death of King Richard (Danny Huston). His brother, John, greedy as a Wall Street hooligan, is now left in charge. Although King John’s subjects despise him, Robin manages to convince them to unite and fight French invaders. You see, the French were led to believe that England was a country at war with itself.
Robin also finds time to steal the heart of war widow Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett), who resides in Nottingham with her father-in-law, Sir Loxley (Max Von Sydow). But Scott’s re-maid Marion is one tough cookie. Unlike her predecessors, she engages in hand-to-hand combat on the battlefield.
After soundly defeating the French, King John goes back on his word and resumes taxing the dickens out of his people. He also declares Robin Hood an enemy of the state. “And so the legend begins.” Do I smell a sequel?
Scott’s “Robin Hood” is masterful. The photography is remarkable, abounding with his signature staccato camera work. A shower of arrows falling from the sky is one of those unique images destined for posterity.
Fascinating underwater battle shots seem to pay homage to Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.”
Crowe, at 46, is the oldest actor to portray Robin, and he pulls it off brilliantly. He’s lost lots of weight and looks delicious in chainmail and leather. Always a guy who goes the extra mile to provide the authenticity his character requires, Crowe shot 200 arrows a day to prepare for this part. His Robin comes off less dashing and more determined, which really works.
“Robin Hood” is a heart-pounding adventure film sure to arouse applause.
— Pam Nadon
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