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review by Bobby Blakey

Director Ridley Scott has an insanely impressive filmography including Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and more recently The Last Dual and House of Gucci among so many more. Now he is reteaming with his Gladiator star Joaquin Phoenix for the historical feature Napoleon co-starring Vanessa Kirby and Tahar Rahim. Could this film be another victory or will it fail to claim a win on the battlefield?


Napoleon follows the checkered rise of the iconic Napoleon Bonaparte and his relentless journey to power through the prism of his addictive, volatile relationship with his one true love, Josephine, showcasing his visionary military and political tactics against some of the most dynamic practical battle sequences ever filmed.


I love history so anytime they do some sort of historical biopic film I am all in. This one specifically intrigued me with Scott and Phoenix back together and the fact that I would have never thought of him for the role of Napolean. The trailers looked outstanding, but I just could never initially see the vision with Phoenix. Now after witnessing this epic film, I am so glad I was wrong. Sure, there will be naysayers I am sure and issues with some elements, but this film is fantastic.


The film features numerous insanely good battle sequences, but it’s really a love story. There are two elements of that here with one being the relationship between Napoleon and Josephine, played brilliantly by Kirby. Both are powerful, dysfunctional and aggressive. Both Phoenix and Kirby are outstanding here together and apart. I fully bought into every strange and uncomfortable element of their relationship. It is the heartbeat of this film at 

its core and is both enduring and heartbreaking all at once. There are cringe worthy moments throughout with them and further cements this as a powerful yet strange coupling.

On the other side is his love of France. This doesn’t seem like something that would really be a love story, but seeing his passion and love for France is just that. Every action he makes isn’t just to be in control it is for victory and honor of France. Mesh these two relationships together and it’s a recipe for chaos and hostility. Both are heart felt real loves and also both just as toxic and unhealthy on every level.


This film is crafter navigating both as individual arcs but simultaneous as one directly affects the other often. Throughout it all we are brought onto the battlefield for numerous impressive sequences that are intense and violent fully immersing you into the battle. At times the pacing is a bit slow outside of the battles, but by design and a necessity to full immerse the audience into the uncomfortable and often violent world that was Napoleon.


Scott took an interesting approach with the accents in the film ditching them all. It does feel off for a short bit with no one speaking with the accents of the varying countries including France and Russia, but it did work and made sense on what they had crafted. After a few minutes I wasn’t thinking much of it again, but understand if it might be off putting to some. I am sure there were some liberties with the history as is the case with any feature, but I loved this film nonetheless. The entire cast is outstanding, the visuals are stunning and the overall story is powerful and beautiful.


Decide for yourself and check out Napoleon in theaters now from Sony. 

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