More than just a 'boys' movie!
One of the movie's best lines: ‘ My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius,Commander of the Armies of the north, General of the Felix legions, loyal to the true Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and now I will have my vengeance, in this life or in the next.'
Father, I would have butchered the whole world...if you would only love me." – Commodus
Russell Crowe portrays the loyal Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when Rome's Caesar Marcus Auerlius (Richard Harris) names Maximus as his successor over his own son Commodus. Caesar’s ambitious son, Commodus, (Joqauin Phoenix) consumed by jealousy murders his father; banishes Maximus dispatching Praetorian guards to murder his family and assumes control of the throne.
Maximus is bought into a Gladiator troop owned by rich ex-gladiator Proximus (Oliver Reed). Reduced to slavery, Maximus uses his military skills and rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murder of his wife, son and his Emperor.
This epic historical drama is easily one of my all time favorite movies filled with excellent sets, beautiful costumes and good cinematography. The movie also has a great score and fantastic visual effects and breathtaking battle sequences. Curiously subtle hints at incest as well as a far nobler tale of unrequited love and courage round out the story!
Joaquin Phoenix gives a chilling, dark and excellent performance as the tormented Commodus. He was a delight to watch and one of the most complex characters. Despite his hatred for Maximus, it was obvious he admired and envied the General's courage and would have rather had him as a friend than as an enemy. Connie Nielsen plays Lucien, Commodus's sister who is compelled to join forces with Maximus to protect her son. Oliver Reed and Richard Harris both render great performances and Russell Crowe is the consummate warrior-leader. Great performance from Djimon Hounsou who plays Juba!