Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Is The Most Underrated Kevin Costner Film

Kevin Costner's starring role in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is his second-best box office total ever and his most underrated film despite his lack of an accent.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Kevin Costner has had an incredible career with no shortage of amazing films, including Dances With Wolves, The Untouchables, and Tin Cup, along with starring in the bgigest show on television today, Yellowstone. On the other end of the spectrum are films that were less loved, including Waterworld and The Postman, but none of those can match his most underrated film. 1991’s epic Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is not only Costner’s most underrated film but his best movie.

Directed by frequent Kevin Costner collaborator Kevin Reynolds, they made Waterworld and Fandango together, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves gave the world the best Maid Marian in Mary Elizabeth Mastriano, the best Will Scarlet thanks to Christian Slater, introduced the character of Azeem to the mythos through Morgan Freeman, and lastly without a doubt and in a point that can not be argued against, Alan Rickman as the greatest Sherrif of Nottingham. All of that is in addition to Costner somehow delivering some of the most absurd dialogue of his career, with a perfectly straight face, as Robin of Locksley.

This re-telling of the classic tale starts out with Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood rescuing Azeem from a death sentence during the Crusades. Swearing an oath to his savior, Azeem follows Robin back to England, where in a chance encounter with Michael Wincott’s Guy of Gisbourne, the pair learn that the corrupt Sherrif of Nottingham has taken control of the region. Upon finding his father brutally murdered by the Sherrif’s men Robin Hood sets out on a quest for revenge that is so earnest it can’t help but be endearing.

Early on a masked assailant attacks Robin Hood prompting a brief sword duel before unmasking as Maid Marian, marking a huge departure from the usually demure and sidelined character as being a capable fighter in her own right. Another way that Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves breaks from tradition is with Kevin Costner’s complete lack of an English accent. Famously, the very successful actor was incapable of the accent, which earned him ruthless mockery in Mel Brooks Robin Hood: Men in Tights and from every late-night show on air in 1991.

Kevin Costner and Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Despite the lack of an accent, it’s amazing in retrospect how good we had it with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The purposely campy film is played incredibly straight, with Alan Rickman getting all of the best lines in the film, but compared to the Robin Hood movies that have come out since it’s a fantastic film. Does anyone even remember Russell Crowe’s version of Robin Hood which featured no elaborate tree houses with multiple levels of walkways in Sherwood Forest and no interlude for a Bryan Adams music video? No, no one does.

The most recent film to tackle the legend came from Taran Edgerton and Jamie Foxx which featured no Sherrif of Nottingham and crossbows that functioned like machine guns. None of them include a threat to eat someone’s heart out with a dull spoon (because it’ll hurt more) or to cancel Christmas. Neither Russel Crowe nor Taran Edgerton could match Kevin Costner’s steely-eyed gaze as he draws his bow, nor the way he’s willing to be the butt of almost every joke throughout the film.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is the best Robin Hood film ever made, and over the years Kevin Costner has been unfairly maligned for his leading man role. The second-highest-grossing film of 1991 and the second-highest with Costner as a leading man (losing out to Dances with Wolves by $19 million), it deserves a second-look.

Today, no one would dare include the Everything I Do, I Do It For You montage or cast an actor that can’t speak with a British accent, but all of those things help make Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves a cinematic masterpiece, and Kevin Costner’s most underrated yet wildly successful film.