Thursday, February 10, 2011
Robin Hood. Ridley Scott (Director) Universal Pictures (2010)
A brilliant action film, with a solid story and superb acting from a stunning cast. Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) returns to England to deliver a crown to new king and a message from a dying man to his family. In Nottingham he encounters the man's wife (Cate Blanchett) and is persuaded to impersonate the dead man for a few days. He is drawn into the life at Nottingham as well as national concerns as French soldiers ravage the country in a prelude to an invasion. The ensuing struggle becomes one for freedom from English tyranny as well as French invaders. The story is very well structured and balanced, the set pieces are outstanding and the cast are outstanding.
This is not the classic Robin Hood story arc, it is concerned with how Robin Hood came to be. The story threads are crisp and clear, they weave together very nicely to deliver a strong narrative that firmly sets up Robin hood, the outlaw legend. The film is a joy to watch, the action set pieces are amazing The mixture of close up action and soaring views bring you right into the fighting and provide a understandable context. There is exactly the right balance struck between the necessary dirt to give the feel for the times and the romantic sense of the legend in the making. The story bears the political aspects easily and effectively, they are natural to the story of Robin Hood and are given their correct place here.
Russell Crowe is simply magnificent, he carries off the ferociously competent man of action with a understated macho assertiveness, allied to a subtle and engaging sense of the man looking for a home and his roots. Cate Blanchett is formidable as Lady Marion, married for a week before her husband leaves for 10 years never to return, she has the steely core and expressive charm required. There is a genuine screen chemistry between the two that feels like a meeting of equals that gives the romance real depth and strength.
A hero is defined as much by their enemies as by their actions and in Oscar Isaac's King John, Robin Hood has a suitably formidable and capable enemy. This is a silkily venomous performance, King John is a sincerely dangerous man. This film is a triumph, a joy to watch.