Brian Cox reviews Ridley Scott’s Napoleon: “It’s terrible”

Brian Cox in Succession
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True to form, actor Brian Cox doesn’t hold back when critiquing Ridley Scott’s Napoleon. He doesn’t have much time for Braveheart, either.

Seldom one to mince his words, Brian Cox has offered an unfiltered review of Ridley Scott’s 2023 historical epic, Napoleon. The film was, the Succession actor said, “Terrible.”

Nor did Cox have much time for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the title figure. It was “a truly terrible performance by Joaquin Phoenix,” he added.

Cox made the comments in a talk hosted by Clive Myrie called History on Stage and Screen. It was part of HistFest, an event held at the British Library earlier in April; during it, Cox waded in not only on Napoleon’s historical accuracy, but also the quality of the film as a piece of drama.

“It really is appalling,” Cox said, according to quotes shared by The Evening Standard. “I don’t know what [Phoenix] was thinking. I think it’s totally his fault and I don’t think Ridley Scott helps him… You can say it’s good drama. No – it’s lies.”

Read more: Napoleon review | A chilly skewering of great man history

Having thoroughly eviscerated Napoleon, Cox then turned his critical gaze to Braveheart – the 1995 historical opus in which Cox starred as Argyle Wallace. That film, directed by and starring Mel Gibson, was “a load of nonsense,” Cox said.

“Mel Gibson was wonderful but it’s a load of lies. He never impregnated the French princess. It is a bollocks, that film.”

Elsewhere, Cox offered his thoughts on theatre critics (“most critics are stupid”), method acting (“that’s all bollocks”), and suggested he’d leave the US if Donald Trump was again elected president (“you certainly don’t need idiots like Trump”).

Returning to the subject of Napoleon, Cox also said he could have played the title role “a lot better than Joaquin Phoenix.” This may or may not be true, but doing so would have required Brian Cox and Ridley Scott to have been in the same location at the same time – an event that would create a singularity of curmudgeonliness so strong that it would tear a hole in the fabric of reality.

We’ll bring you more of Brian Cox’s film reviews as we get them.

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