Tax Evader Hits the Big Screen – Again

Eric Bourse

From the classic 1973 animated movie by Disney to the Mel Brook’s 1993 comedy, “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” audiences will go into Ridley Scott’s (“Body of Lies,” 2008) 2010 version of the classic story thinking they know what to expect. They are in for a big, bloody epic surprise.

“Robin Hood” (2010) is the fifth collaboration between Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe (“State of Play,” 2009). The story, written by Brian Helgeland (“Green Zone,” 2010) details the origins of Robin Longstride and how he became Robin Hood. The legend begins with Longstride as an English archer in the Third Crusade during the 12th century.

After King Richard I dies in battle, Longstride assumes the identity of a dying knight, Sir Robert Loxley of Nottingham, and promises to deliver his sword to the knight’s father.

Back in England, King John, played by Oscar Isaac (“Body of Lies,” 2008) enlists the help of Sir Godfrey, played by Mark Strong (“Sherlock Holmes,” 2009) who is secretly causing a civil war in England so the French army can invade and take over.

This is the first time the roots of Robin Hood have been portrayed on screen. Russell Crowe puts on a macho performance like he has done on many occasions and has a strong presence as Robin Hood in the film’s many battle sequences.

Cate Blanchett (“Benjamin Button,” 2008) plays Marion Loxley, Longstride’s love interest. Due to the possibility of losing her 5,000 acres in Nottingham, Loxley reluctantly agrees to marry Longstride, who is assuming the identity of her dead husband.

Her initial treatment of her new husband is cold but she eventually warms up to him when she realizes he is a noble man and not some opportunistic scoundrel.

The main merry men in the film, Little John, played by Kevin Durand (“Legion,” 2010) and Mark Addy (“The Order,” 2003) as Friar Tuck provide great comic relief in their few scenes. Little John is actually larger than everyone else which begs the question: Why is he called Little John?

Friar Tuck is definitely an unconventional man of the cloth as he makes Nottingham’s mead (alcohol made from honey) and assists Robin Hood in stealing grain to keep for the town.

The acting in the film by is solid. However, for a movie about the beginnings of the folk legend, the cast is surprisingly old. Crowe is nearly 50 years old and playing a character when the life expectancy at the time isn’t even 40 years old, requiring the audience to look past it.

The film contains a wide variety of battle sequences all throughout the movie. From castle sieges, to forest ambushes and even a beach battle similar to the opening scene from 1998’s “Saving Private Ryan”, the movie has it all.

Similar to Scott’s other Middle Ages epic, “Kingdom of Heaven,” (2005) the action is thrilling and done with the expert touch that Scott is known for. A few shots of the action are a little confusing because the camera is zoomed in close. Thankfully this happens only a few times in the film’s extensive amount of combat scenes.

Audiences wanting the traditional story of Robin Hood will be disappointed. However, the film brings a refreshing take on the tale that has been told countless times with its thrilling action scenes, convincing story and strong acting by the whole cast.

“Robin Hood” runs 140 minutes and is rated PG-13 for strong war violence and some sexual content.

My rating: 3 and ´ stars out of 5