** SPOILERS **
Robin Hood is an origin story, but that's not really unusual. After all, Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Sir Ridley Scott's Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe were also origin stories. However, this Robin Hood origin story is the first to establish that the main reason Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) became Robin Hood is because he happened to have two hands. Robin Hood is also the first Robin Hood story where a bunch of his allies takes turns pulling arrows out of Robin's body. (He's fine, though. He's always fine after being shot with arrows.)
Anyway, the hand thing: after he was drafted (no, really, he gets a draft notice in the mail) to fight in the Third Crusade, Robin encountered a Saracen warrior named
Azeem Yahya (Jamie Foxx). Their fight cost Yahya his left hand, but later, Robin (for some reason) decided to save Yahya's son from being executed. He failed, got kicked out of Arabia and sent back to Nottingham, but this noble act earned him Yahya's respect. It turns out Yahya's full name, loosely translated, is John Little, and he's got a plan, see. He's gonna use this rich white boy to steal all of the money the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) has been collecting to fund his war effort. John would do it himself, but he's only got one hand now, thanks to Robin, but that white boy has two hands so he can still shoot a bow and arrow. Therefore, Robin has to be the one to become the Hood and steal from the Sheriff of Nottingham.
You see, in this weird ass universe, the Sheriff is in league with the Catholic Church to pay for the Third Crusade - but they're also secretly in league with Arabia for... why, exactly, isn't clear. To make Nottingham great again, maybe. The Sheriff of Nottingham is very much the Sheriff of Nationalism and he likes to give paranoid, racist speeches about Arabians coming to take over Nottingham (England is never mentioned in this movie; there is only Nottingham, a 12th-century city with paved streets). Also, in this weird ass universe, swords apparently don't exist - everyone, from Robin Hood to the Sheriff's soldiers to the Arabian warriors uses bows and arrows, even in close quarter combat. And they say things like "report to your unit", "I want information on troop deployment", and "Thank you for your service."
Anyway, John Little trains Robin to be the fastest and bestest archer and a super thief, while Robin adopts his secret identity as Robin of Loxley. As Robin of Loxley, Robin pretends to be a callow rich guy who gets in good with the Sheriff to learn his evil plot. He doesn't actually have to pretend to be callow (it comes naturally), but pretending to like the Sheriff not only gets him an audience with the Catholic Church's evil Cardinal (F. Murray Abraham!) but the ruse also has the unfortunate side effect of the Sheriff telling Robin his own origin story of how the priests who raised him sodomized him repeatedly with a broomstick. Hence, the stick up his ass isn't just metaphorical.
Anyway, John and Robin go on a bunch of missions to steal from the Sheriff and no one knows who this mysterious, masked Hood is, despite the fact that John and Robin scream "JOHN!" and "ROBIN!" to each other every time they make a frantic getaway. As for why Robin is doing any of this at all, well, he's doing it for a girl - Marian (Eve Hewson) - who promised she'd wait for him to come home from the war but started dating Will Scarlett (Jamie Dornan), a local rabble-rouser who worries a lot about his "political career", when false word came from the Holy Land that Robin of Loxley was dead. Marian eventually figures out Robin is the Hood and joins up with him on their last gambit to steal the Sheriff's money, but Will catches them snogging and decides to turn and join up with Cardinal F. Murray Abraham to become the new Sheriff. This sets up a sequel that will never happen.
Look, let's shoot straight: the movie is terrible. Taron Egerton plays the worst Robin Hood ever, a guy without a brain in his head who has no idea what he's doing or even why he's doing it. Jamie Foxx is the brains and the brawn of this whole operation, and it's nice to see Paul Anderson (Arthur from Peaky Blinders) as Guy of Gisborne, but the plot is a bewildering mess broken up by a bewildering chase scene every time Robin dons the hood, and they never even make it to Sherwood Forest. Now, I haven't seen every Robin Hood movie but I've seen enough of them, and this Robin Hood movie is the first time I've ever wanted Robin Hood to die in a Robin Hood movie.