WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Otto Bathurst's Robin Hood, in theaters now.
In Robin Hood lore, the archer is a true man of the people, someone willing to risk everything in defense of the poor and downtrodden. This is a truism in virtually every big screen version of the character, with some iterations, such as the 2010 movie from director Ridley Scott, going so far as to paint him as a major English patriot.
Otto Bathurst's new spin with Taron Egerton as the titular character melds several these versions into one, but the result is a character devoid of any sense of virtue. It gets so bad that this vigilante, revamped as "the Hood" for modern audiences, ends up being the worst take on the hero to date.
Kevin Costner's depiction in 1991's Prince of Thieves was earnest, and filled with heart and soul, as was Russell Crowe's, a depiction that came due to them being men laying it on the line, putting the greater good above all else. Whether it be the Sheriff of Nottingham or invading armies, these Robin Hoods weren't blindly loyal to crown or country; it was the people of England who came first. These archers resonated as defenders, avengers and symbols people would follow, making it believable that they would eventually become legends.
Bathurst fails to accomplish pretty much any of this, presenting a hero with no reason for the audience to feel any emotional attachment to him or his crusade. Egerton's Robin undertakes his mission of goodwill and justice simply because he lost his girl, Marian (Eve Hewson). That's right, it's that superficial.
After fighting for England against the Arabians, he sees Marian with Will (Jamie Dornan), an aspiring politician who's trying to peacefully help society. Robin throws a tantrum which John (Jamie Foxx) capitalizes on in a true bromance moment. This leaves a soured Robin wanting to be trained by his friend, kickstarting the Merry Men's story.
Clearly, Robin never really had any interest in helping Nottingham; he's just selfishly hoping to impress Marian. He even admits as much when she finds out his identity. It's a completely nonsensical decision in an age where heroes like Star-Lord Captain America, Wonder Woman and more are all sacrificing on the big screen to massive success. Unlike the other major costumed heroes audiences are flocking to see, there's no endearing factor or sentimental appeal to latch onto. The archer's motive is lacking, and the more he interacts with John, lusting after Marian, the more he comes off as a little kid who lost his toy. It doesn't help that he objectifies Marian without even consider her feelings about the situation. This Robin Hood believes kicking butt is the key to a girl's heart.
Nothing exemplifies the problem with this Robin Hood better than is derailed his big speech, wherein he tries to convince everyone he's a leader. He urges Nottingham to join him in rebelling against the Sheriff (Ben Mendelsohn) so they can get their tax money back from the villain's ever-sinister war fund. However, Egerton's performance lacks the passion of Costner and the conviction of Crowe, coming off as way more style than substance. Then again, we probably shouldn't have expect anything more from a movie which spends most of its energy on action sequences aping Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes flicks and his King Arthur reboot with less emotional depth than Zack Snyder's 300.
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.