2004 Certificate: 15


Colin Farrell fills the sandals of Macedonia's legendary warrior king in Oliver Stone's starry and visually impressive epic. As you'd expect from director Oliver Stone, the battle scenes are slickly handled and nobody is spared in Alexander's ferocious quest for global domination (even the elephants aren't safe). Historical accuracy takes second place to juicy melodramatics, erotic interludes (spiced up considerably by Rosario Dawson) and all-conquering action.


  • Oliver Stone


  • Colin Farrell

  • Anthony Hopkins

  • Rosario Dawson

  • Val Kilmer

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Jared Leto


He had conquered ninety per cent of the known world - 22 million square miles - by the time he was 25.

Leading his loyal armies through 22,000 miles of sieges and conquests, he grabbed territory that today would sweep from Greece to India.

And as this glossy adaptation would have it, he also spoke with a Dublin accent, favoured blonde highlights and showed a marked reluctance to consort with the laydeez.

Colin Farrell's take on the legend of Alexander the Great is not helped by director Oliver Stone's decision to leap-frog key points in the conqueror's life.

We first meet Al on his deathbed and are then flashed back to his childhood and adolescence under a brutal father (Kilmer) and controlling mother (a serpentine Angelina Jolie).

Next minute he's lining up his numerically inferior forces against the Persians for the momentous Battle of Gauamela (after he's already occupied half of Asia).

Then - as his ravaged forces feel their loyalty waning - we backtrack a decade or so to his crowning as Macedonian king after the assassination of his father.

Any loose ends are tied up in a voiceover from Anthony Hopkins as Alexander's general Ptolemy.

Stone, whose experiences as a decorated Vietnam vet made the likes of Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July compelling viewing, is slightly at sea here.

As you might expect, the battle scenes are skilfully handled and the brutality leaves nothing to the imagination (elephant trunk-ectomy, anyone?).

On the down side, Farrell is left with nothing much to do as most of his character-forming experiences take place off screen.

When called upon to display Al's attraction to Hephaistion (Jared Leto), there's nothing but a couple of coy glances and a manly hug.

The decision to allow Farrell to speak in his natural brogue (with the rest of the cast slipping into Irish out of respect) means the badinage of battle-hardened troops sounds like closing time on Craggy Island.

While Stone defeats his own aspirations to authenticity, it's actually a luridly enjoyable action romp. Just don't take it too seriously.

Tim Evans