Max Von SydowBy strict dictionary definition, a rogue is a dishonest or unprincipled man, but it can also mean a likable, if disreputable character, especially in movies. Russell Crowe has often played rogues, for example, so we could say he's playing against type in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood by playing the legendary figure as a stoic, principled hero. That leaves the rest of the movie wide open for a gallery of rogues to steal the show.

Sadly, the new version of Robin Hood needs all the playfulness it can get. It's a ponderous, muddy mess, as our own John Gholson explained in his review. Yet there are shafts of glorious light that shine through the darkness, and my favorite is Max Von Sydow, playing a character you might describe as the senior rogue in the picture. (By the way, the image accompanying this article does not represent how he looks in Robin Hood.)

As the blind Sir Walter Loxley, we first see him with his daughter-in-law, Maid Marion (Cate Blanchett). Soon thereafter, he receives Robin into his home by bellowing at him from another room. When he meets Robin face to face, Robin gives Loxley tragic news about his estranged son. Von Sydow, who appears frail yet hardy, stiffens and then softens, almost imperceptibly, absorbing the blow, assimilating the information, and resolving, within himself, how he will deal with it. It's a marvelous piece of acting, making a small moment memorable.

Then he turns on the charm.