by Phillip Johnston
You know the story well: it is a time of tyranny and injustice in 12th century England. The law is oppressing its people and France has become an imminent threat. Peasant and nobleman alike have taken a stand on the fields of battle under the leadership of King Richard the Lion Heart, but when their fearless ruler is shot down in battle, the country is plunged into a sea of doubt and desperation.
Richard’s thoughtless younger brother John rises to the throne and with his rule comes unfair taxation and shoddy leadership. “There is no Kingdom without loyalty,” John calls out in an attempt to quell an angered people, a leadership motto that wins him no public acclaim.
Robin Longstride is one among the angered masses and he has the courage and brawn to stand up and say that in tyranny there can only exist endless failure. He doesn’t steal from the rich and give to the poor as much as shoot rhetorical arrows into the heart of injustice. The masses like that.
Adding to the conflict is a traitor named Godfrey whose loyalty to King John is all for show. In one of his first scenes, Godfrey plunges an arrow into the heart of a loyal fellow Englishman. The dying man cries out, “But you are English!” “When it suits me,” responds the deep-voiced, balding traitor. He’s played by Hollywood’s new favorite villainous persona Mark Strong, who you may have seen in Sherlock Holmes and The Young Victoria in a variation on the same role. (more…)