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Stars: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Eileen Atkins, Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, Danny Huston
Director: Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott's take on the complex sequence of events around 1200 that led to Robin becoming an outlaw has moments of grandeur - especially in longshots of hundreds of horsemen on the move. Narrative-wise, though, it proves something of a slog, with too many non-impact, non-action scenes, sometimes groaning (and creaking) under the weight of its overlong running time.
An archer in King Richard's army, returning from the Crusades and battling the French on the way, Robin Longstride (Crowe) assumes the identity of Robert Loxley, a knight killed in a French ambush, in order to return the dead man's sword to his father (Von Sydow). Arriving at Loxley's castle, Robin finds himself invited to continue the deception, so that Loxley's widow Marian (Blanchett) may not be kicked off her 500-acre farmland by the unscrupulous Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen).
Meanwhile, headstrong John (Isaac), king after Richard's death in battle, is the patsy for scheming Godfrey (Strong), who is in league with the king of France to ensure a successful invasion of England.
Crowe and Blanchett's north country accents come and go a bit and in truth they sometimes make surprisingly dull company in scenes together. More successful are Strong, a first-class villain, Isaac, much better here than he was in Agora, and Mark Addy, an absolutely perfect - and personable - Friar Tuck.
Some of the action is terrific, but some of it also too confused for comfort. The sheriff of Nottingham is still a bad guy, but he hardly gets a look in here. He may yet have a juicier part to play in the sequel suggested by the end - though Crowe and Blanchett may be too long in the tooth to make it.
UK/USA 2010. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by MPC.
141 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.
Review date: 12 May 2010