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dir Otto Bathurst
scr Ben Chandler, David James Kelly
prd Jennifer Davisson, Leonardo DiCaprio
with Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan, F Murray Abraham, Tim Minchin, Paul Anderson, Ian Peck, Cornelius Booth, Kane Headley-Cummings, Lara Rossi
release UK/US 21.Nov.18
18/UK Lionsgate 1h56
Take a bow: Egerton and Foxx
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A freewheeling approach to the over-filmed legend, this movie has plenty of style and energy, but little else. Everything is overwrought, but attitude can only go so far. The action, effects and antics are meaningless without just a bit of originality in the script. So director Otto Bathurst audaciously pushes it every chance he gets, never quite generating chemistry between characters or suspense in the action.
After fighting in the Crusades, Lord Robin of Loxley (Egerton) is sent home for daring to help prisoner John (Foxx). Back in Nottingham, he discovers his manor demolished and his beloved Marian (Hewson) in the arms of another man, Will (Dornan). So Robin and John decide to take on the brutal Sheriff (Mendelsohn), stealing his taxes and returning them to the oppressed people. Meanwhile, Marian is secretly organising a rebellion with the help of Friar Tuck (Minchin). And none of them know that there's a bigger conspiracy afoot between the Sheriff and Cardinal (Abraham).
The narrative is fairly straightforward, with obvious subtext about a society in which leaders use lies and fear to keep the poor under control, stealing their money in the name of protecting them. At least this adds a hint of relevance, because the film is little more than a flurry of ridiculous costumes, manly swagger and choreographed action. Arrows fire like automatic bullets, exploding on impact in slow motion. This has little point beyond looking cool. It's certainly not much fun.
Egerton brings his charm to the role, smiling as he dives into the muscly physicality. But the general chaos keeps him isolated from pretty much everyone else. Scenes with Hewson are smoochy but never romantic. Foxx brings extra action-man gruffness, yet seems to be in a parallel movie universe. The other merry men flit around the edges, with Dornan veering awkwardly from love rival to cohort and beyond. Mendelsohn essentially reprises his Rogue One character, complete with the same outfit.
At least Guy Ritchie took a playful approach when he revamped the King Arthur story in a postmodern style. Bathurst plays everything dead-straight, only indulging in some sassy banter that furthers the macho tone. Fans of conematic mayhem (namely Woo-style exploding plaster and Wachowski-style slow-motion stuntwork) might enjoy the general carnage. Although it takes another kind of fan to appreciate a medieval version of the Met Gala. But this archness is neither funny nor thrilling, so the set-up for a franchise feels as pointless as everything else here.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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