Movie Reviews

"It Really Is Appalling": Brian Cox Gives Scathing Review Of Joaquin Phoenix In Napoleon

joaquin phoenix looking unimpressed as napoleon bonaparte in napoleon 1

A new review for Napoleon has just come in from Succession actor Brian Cox, and he doesn’t hold back about Joaquin Phoenix’s lead performance. Directed by Ridley Scott, the historical epic hit theaters last year, chronicling the life of real French military leader and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, including his major battles and his tumultuous love life. Critical reception to the movie was mixed, and it ended up not being a major hit at the box office either.

During a recent appearance at HistFest (via The Standard), Cox shares his thoughts Napoleon, among other things, delivering a scathing review of Phoenix’s acting. According to the Scottish actor, he would have delivered a better performance as the infamous French leader. Check out Cox’s brutally honest thoughts below:

The Napoleon critics’ reviews took issue with various aspects of the film, but its structure and the generally incomplete portrait it paints of the real-life figure were certainly among the biggest complaints. The film currently has a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the audience score is only barely higher at 59%. The lackluster audience response is also reflected in the movie’s underwhelming box office, with the historical epic ultimately making $221 million worldwide on a budget of $200 million.

Although criticisms of the film vary, there might actually be something to Cox’s comments. Phoenix is undoubtedly one of the best actors currently working in Hollywood, but his Napoleon was just fundamentally hard to root for and empathize with. Some of the characterization may be based on real history, of course, but Phoenix really leans hard into the character’s insecurities, immaturity, and general weirdness. The film arguably makes Napoleon more bizarre and somewhat unpleasant rather than genuinely interesting and three-dimensional.

Cox doesn’t seem to be saying that Phoenix is a bad actor, but just that he made poor choices while playing Napoleon. Phoenix’s performance has been listed as a highlight of an otherwise flawed film in some reviews, however, so this is clearly not a sentiment felt by everyone. While Napoleon‘s failings can’t be pinned down to only one factor, Cox’s latest comments certainly make his feelings about the film clear.

Source: The Standard