Ridley Scott’s revisionist take on the Robin Hood story is a long way from Errol Flynn’s swashbuckling hero or Kevin Costner’s Prince of Thieves, and even further from the merry outlaw of legend. This is Robin Hood before he became a myth.
In Scott’s version, Russell Crowe‘s Robin is a humble archer who takes on the identity of a dead knight while returning from the Crusades and goes on to aid the dead man’s feisty widow (Cate Blanchett) before becoming a defender of the realm and champion of the common man.
The film is slow moving and sometimes dour, but Scott tops and tails the narrative with rousing battle sequences. Crowe, if you can ignore the dodgy accent, is a forceful Robin, yet shows little chemistry with Blanchett. At least, that is, in the film’s shorter, theatrical version – the newly released director’s cut does flesh out their relationship a little, as do some additional deleted scenes included on the Blu-ray edition.
After Flynn, though, the best screen Robin Hood is still Sean Connery’s grizzled veteran, acting opposite Audrey Hepburn’s Marian in Richard Lester’s elegiac 1976 take on the tale, Robin and Marian.