Seeking out the

5000 greatest films

in a century of cinema


Directed by Ridley Scott
Produced by Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh, and Mark Huffam
Written by David Scarpa
With: Joaquin Phoenix, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim, Rupert Everett, Mark Bonnar, Paul Rhys, Ludivine Sagnier, Matthew Needham, Sinéad Cusack, Phil Cornwell, Ian McNeice, and Rupert Everett
Cinematography: Dariusz Wolski
Editing: Claire Simpson and Sam Restivo
Music: Martin Phipps
Runtime: 158 min
Release Date: 22 November 2023
Aspect Ratio: 2.39 : 1
Color: Color

While most of Scott's historical pictures feel like they were conceived by a fifteen-year-old cheating on a test, only the two that star Joaquin Phoenix made me feel embarrassed that I bought a ticket. Phoenix is an actor with a wealth of emotion but zero technique. That's not to say he hasn’t given some beautiful performances when he's well-directed in movies that suit his screen persona, but under Scott's direction in a period movie, he soils a canvas that’s covered in shit to start with.

Scott and screenwriter David Scarpa make some ludicrous choices regarding what to focus on and what to leave out in their exploration of Bonaparte's many glorious battles, rise to power, and relationship with Empress Joséphine. Were it not for some new and inventive ways of depicting cannon-based warfare, I'd say this picture was a total bust. But even with its few well-staged moments, Napoleon is an utter failure. Ugly, tedious, adolescent, shameful.

Twitter Capsule:

The first film I’ve seen based on a hot take, Ridley Scott spends 157 min and $200M to say, “I betcha France's greatest leader was a total loser.”