WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Otto Bathurst's Robin Hood, in theaters now.
Director Otto Bathurst's Robin Hood tries to make a statement on modern politics and corruption. It's not merely about stealing from the rich to give to the poor in Nottingham, it also addresses preserving the soldiers England sends to war for all the wrong reasons. Ultimately, Robin & Co. simply want a better society.
However, if the film's plot seems familiar, it's not only because it's a retelling of a centuries-old legend, but because, in recasting the outlaw as a vigilante known as "the Hood," it steals shamelessly from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.
The Vigilante's Training
Played by Taron Egerton, Robin of Loxley is very much the Bruce Wayne of the story. Believed killed in the Crusades, he's instead trained to become a weapon by John (Jamie Foxx), who wants to help him revolt against the corrupt, war-mongering Sheriff of Nottingham. They remain at Robin's secluded Loxley manor, preparing to liberate the those oppressed by the Sheriff (Ben Mendelsohn), and to cleanse Nottingham.
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That's precisely what Liam Neeson's Ra's al Ghul did with Bruce in Batman Begins. Together, they were meant to build an army and purge Gotham. Robin and John do that here, becoming an incorruptible symbol to inspire the people. Robin even comes to Nottingham and pretends to be a philanthropist, playing the role of medieval playboy to mislead the Sheriff and draw any suspicion away from his nighttime activities.
The Big Heist
When Robin and his men discover the Sheriff and the Church are secretly using war funds to gather an army to take over England, they set out to steal the money en route to be blessed by the Vatican. As Robin's team targets the convoy, the cinematography and sound effects evoke the The Dark Knight scene in which the Joker snatches Harvey Dent while he's being transported in police custody.
The music, in particular, has shades of the Joker's bank robbery, with an explosion in the town allowing Robin to escape with the loot. It's similar to when the Clown Prince of Crime blew the bank wall and escaped into traffic. Stylistically, Bathurst carves out this mission by aping Nolan's aesthetic from Bane's plane heist in The Dark Knight Rises' opening sequence.
The Rise of a Villain
While John aids Robin, Bathurst goes full Nolan when it comes to other key faces in the movie. The hero has lost Marian (Eve Hewson) -- someone fighting for social justice, a la Maggie Gyllenhaal's Rachel Dawes -- to Will (Jamie Dornan), a politician who initially starts off with good intentions. However, when Will then loses Marian to Robin and spies them kissing, he actually falls on gasoline and is burned like Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent.
He ends up becoming Two-Face at the end, with half his face scarred, although he survives and takes a villainous turn as the new sheriff. He decides to hunt Robin and his outlaws because they took away his love, and because of the twisted view he has on restoring balance to Nottingham. Two-Face Will even turns on his politician-hating colleague, Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin), who'ssimilar to Gary Oldman's Jim Gordon, acting as Robin's inside man in Nottingham, thereby mirroring Batman's relationship with the commissioner.
In theaters now, Robin Hood stars Taron Egerton as Robin, Jamie Foxx as Little John, Eve Hewson as Maid Marian, Ben Mendelsohn as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck, Jamie Dornan as Will Scarlet, Paul Anderson as Guy of Gisborne, Josh Herdman as Righteous, and Bjorn Bengtsson as Tydon.