By Owen Gleiberman
July 12, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

As Robin of Locksley, Kevin Costner delivers his lines in a languid, earnest torpor. When he announces that he’s going to lead the outlaws of Sherwood Forest, we don’t feel his fervor, his exuberant desire to hold sway: Costner sounds like he’s just decided to run for city council. As a piece of escapism, this deluxe, action-heavy, two-hour-and-21-minute Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves gets the job done. You’re carried along by plot, production values, and some choice supporting actors. Yet it’s a rouser without a rousing hero. And without the sense that Robin is on a humanistic mission, the story has no charge. Director Kevin Reynolds gives the action scenes a contemporary brutality and zap, but there aren’t enough occasions when Robin and his men triumph through their wits. The most entertaining thing here is Alan Rickman’s performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Coating every line in sarcastic venom, Rickman makes the sheriff a perverse, modern fiend, but he’s also in a great tradition of British-ham megalomaniacs. He has the live-wire excitement that Costner is missing. B-

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