[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B001QXZ7SA][/pullquote] In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was no bigger film star than Kevin Costner. He has made his name with films like Field of Dreams and The Untouchables, before he started to produce massive commercial smash hits like Dances with Wolves and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Robin Hood marked the very pinnacle of his fame and popularity as a series of missteps like Waterworld and The Postman slowly choked the life out of his bankability at the box office.
In Jerusalem, Robin of Locksley (Costner) is imprisoned having gone to join King Richard in his Crusades. He escapes along with Moor, Azeem (Morgan Freeman) and sets sail for his homeland of England. Upon his return, he discovers his family lands reclaimed by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman), his father (Brian Blessed) murdered and love interest Marian (Mary-Elizabeth Mastrantonio) held captive. Robin and Azeem form the infamous ˜band of merry men’ and set about writing the Sherriff’s wrongs and reclaiming the land for the people of England.
The tale of Robin Hood is one of the most enduring in film history. It has been made and remade countless times, with each one tweeking the story to its own ends. Here we find the addition of Azeem (an opportunity to cast the excellent Morgan Freeman), an American accent for the Robin himself and a Sherriff so evil he threatens to cut out peoples hearts with a spoon and even, God forbid, ˜calls off Christmas.’
Prince of Thieves‘ cast is strong, although Costner himself is a little disappointing as the ˜everyman’ Robin, with his American accent being a constant source of annoyance (although not quite as much as the random casting of Christian Slater in a forest in Nottingham). Freeman is superb as new character Azeem, but the star of the show is clearly Rickman. He steals every scene that he’s in with his scenery-chewing and over-the-top threats of violence. It is a joy to behold an expert actor having an absolute ball with a famous character from history.
The action scenes are suitable blockbuster-friendly, and the plot fizzes along at a good pace, with plenty of quotable lines of dialogue throughout. There are moments that make little or no sense, for instance there’s a witch for no adequately explained reason. Also if Robin Hood lands at Dover and is walking to Nottingham, then why does he go via Hadrian’s Wall? But nitpicking at a hulking great adventure like this is a pointless endeavour.
Prince of Thieves is not a smart film and you won’t learn anything from it, but it is fun, which is what summer action films are all about. As we find ourselves in a time where all action films are so ˜dark’ or ˜cynical’ that it’s nice to transport yourself to a simpler time, where things didn’t make sense and they didn’t have to.