“There are no perfect men in the world; only perfect intentions…”
Well… what a rip-roaring, maiden-kissing, thrill ride that was. From Kevin Costner’s bearded visage nearly losing his hand to Sean Connery showing up as the most Scottish king of England ever, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is definitely never boring.
It’s difficult to begin anywhere else other than the accents. Obviously, all American hero Kevin Costner is, on the surface, an odd choice to play England’s most famous mythical son but to his credit he doesn’t even bother to attempt to sound like an Englishman. Unlike Christian Slater who rocks up speaking in a thousand voices in his portrayal of Will Scarlett. Elsewhere, Morgan Freeman mostly keeps up his middle Eastern pastiche but he never seems too far away from calling the Sheriff of Nottingham a goddamn jive turkey and Alan Rickman doesn’t have to affect an accent as he is pretty much just being Alan Rickman. By all accounts Rickman essentially wrote most of his own dialogue and only agreed to appear at all if he could have complete carte blanche over the character. This results in a gloriously over the top villain who is always sticking his sword into some family member or other whilst shouting at random birds and threatening to cut out Robin Hood’s heart with a spoon. It’s all a load of wonderful, wonderful nonsense.
Just when you think that Sean Connery’s tartan cameo is the bizarre cherry atop the cake of ludicrousness, Friar Tuck just straight up breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience. Just read that back to yourself for a moment and imagine anything like that ever happening now. And this is just a massive shame. Cinema was much more fun and weird and glorious back in the 80s and 90s. This film could never be made now, just look at Ridley Scott’s dour delivery of Robin Hood back in 2010. Friar Tuck never once looked like breaking the laws of quantum physics in that film.
Aside from the fact that its erraticism makes it so enjoyable, there is a lot to admire generally about Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Kevin Costner was one of the world’s most sought after leading men in 1991 and he delivers a compelling and likeable performance. The action sequences are genuinely exciting too and it is also satisfying to see Morgan Freeman portraying an actual positive Muslim character, something else that you would never ever see now.
It’s (very) easy to mock Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves but at nearly two and a half hours I enjoyed it as much as any other film I have seen this year and not just for nostalgia’s sake.
If you can sit through this film without a smile on your face you are doing cinema wrong. A proper classic like they don’t, or can’t, make any more.