Some perceive Robin Hood as a redistribution-of-wealth proponent, but I've never embraced that. To me, Robin of Loxley (Locksley) is (pure and simple) a crusader against payment (i.e., taxes) taken for services not rendered or questionable crusades forged and financed by elected mobsters. I live in New Jersey. I know the bloody gimmick all too well and have long fantasized about administering Robin Hood's surreptitious justice against my governing crooks.
To sweeten my particular perspective, I've known Robin Hood my whole life, following his exploits in books, comics and movies, much in the way I've followed Tarzan, Long John Silver, Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan and Tom Sawyer. In other words, by the very nature of the arrangement, I hold a sentimental bond with the daring bloke. (Gosh, my appreciation of DC's Green Arrow stems from Robin Hood, but I imagine most Oliver Queen fans would say the same.)
This new "Robin Hood" is produced by Leo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davidsson; directed by Otto "Five Days" Bathurst, and written by Brad Chandler and David James Kelly. It stars hip, new kid on the block, Taron Egerton of "Kingsman" fame. Like the "Kingsman" flicks, this current volume of the legendary "thief" presents an unorthodox, steampunkish edge, but then so does Charlie Hunnam/Guy Ritchie's underrated "King Arthur", to which the misled public turned a blind eye. (I can only trust that Bathurst's movie mounts an audience akin to Russell Crowe/Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood", since that one raked in big bucks, though never spawned the sequel that so many presumed inevitable. "Robin Hood '18" might compensate for that.)
Whatever comes of its box-office draw, this retelling works as well as the best of 'em, offering winsome, cloak-and-dagger action within a package that reflects aspects of most other adaptations: The Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) does his heartless, taxing-the-hell-out-of-everyone thing, supported by an evil cardinal (F. Murray Abraham) and the ruthless Guy of Gisborne (Paul Anderson), with Robin Hood (aka, the Hood) responding by robbing the rich to give to...well, you know the rest.
Through the cunning training of ex-enemy Yahya, aka (Little) John (Jamie Foxx), our destined, Sherwood Forest champion grows skillful and courageous enough to assemble his "merry" followers. Among his avenging recruits are dear ol' (this time svelte) Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin) and reluctant, waiting-in-the-wings Will Tillman/Scarlet (Jamie Dornan), who's married to (hold on to your saddle!) gorgeous Maid Marian (Eve Hewson).
Marian is still Robin Hood's main squeeze, mind you, but as one can deduce, this version serves revisions, but then so does Kevin Costner/Kevin Reynolds' blockbuster, to no disgruntlement among fans. Even with its various quirks, "Robin Hood '18" still stays on noble course.
Much of this comes from Egerton's resolute interpretation, as he warms up to the we're-doing-this-for-your-own-good rich (under a war-effort foil), if only to enact the expected Zorro/Don Diego del la Vega/playing-both-sides dynamic. This makes Robin Hood's masterful manipulation of the iniquitous principles evermore uplifting, especially when accompanied by Joseph Trapanese's rousing score. (I'll have you know that a number of the Trenton-based, Regal Plaza audience cheered whenever the music ascended and the arrows sailed upon the Sheriff's property-seizing minions.)
What more can I say? At the end of the day, "Robin Hood '18" is a positive piece of adventurous allegory. I wouldn't call it the best adaptation of our hero (that distinction belongs to the Errol Flyn/Michael Curtiz/William Keighley edition), but this version sure does feel nice and cozy. And why wouldn't it? It's about an old pal on an old jaunt for an old, essential cause. If you're taxed to the unprecedented hilt as I am (and bewailing those infinite, unsalted Jersey roads, even though an ice storm was projected days in advance), I'm confident you'll depart this latest model mirroring my lofty, Loxley sentiment.