Critics Consensus

Ridley Scott and an excellent cast successfully convey the intensity of Roman gladitorial combat as well as the political intrigue brewing beneath.



Reviews Counted: 194

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Average Rating: 3.8/5

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Movie Info

A man robbed of his name and his dignity strives to win them back, and gain the freedom of his people, in this epic historical drama from director Ridley Scott. In the year 180, the death of emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) throws the Roman Empire into chaos. Maximus (Russell Crowe) is one of the Roman army's most capable and trusted generals and a key advisor to the emperor. As Marcus' devious son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) ascends to the throne, Maximus is set to be executed. He escapes, but is captured by slave traders. Renamed Spaniard and forced to become a gladiator, Maximus must battle to the death with other men for the amusement of paying audiences. His battle skills serve him well, and he becomes one of the most famous and admired men to fight in the Colosseum. Determined to avenge himself against the man who took away his freedom and laid waste to his family, Maximus believes that he can use his fame and skill in the ring to avenge the loss of his family and former glory. As the gladiator begins to challenge his rule, Commodus decides to put his own fighting mettle to the test by squaring off with Maximus in a battle to the death. Gladiator also features Derek Jacobi, Connie Nielsen, Djimon Hounsou, and Oliver Reed, who died of a heart attack midway through production. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Russell Crowe
as Gen. Maximus
Oliver Reed
as Proximo
Richard Harris
as Marcus Aurelius
Derek Jacobi
as Gracchus
Tomas Arana
as Quintus
Omid Djalili
as Slave Trader
Nicholas McGaughey
as Praetorian Officer
Chris Kell
as Scribe
Tony Curran
as Assasin No. 1
Mark Lewis
as Assassin No. 2
John Quinn
as Valerius
Alun Raglan
as Praetorian Guard No. 1
David Bailie
as Engineer
Chick Allen
as German Leader
David Nicholls
as Giant Man
Al Ashton
as Rome Trainer No. 1
Billy Dowd
as Narrator
Ray Calleja
as Lucius' Attendant
Giannina Facio
as Maximus' Wife
Giorgio Cantarini
as Maximus' Son
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News & Interviews for Gladiator

Critic Reviews for Gladiator

All Critics (194) | Top Critics (49)

  • Russell Crowe solidly anchors this epic-scale gladiator movie - the first in nearly four decades - by using his burly frame and expressive face to give dimension to what might otherwise have been comic book heroics.

    May 8, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Throughout it all, Crowe maintains a tough, slot-mouthed reticence; he is very persuasive as the superman of the Colosseum.

    Feb 22, 2015 | Full Review…
  • In Russell Crowe, Scott has found an actor who can carry this movie the way Atlas was supposed to carry the globe of the world on his back -- in Crowe's case without stooping.

    Feb 22, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Gladiator is filled with brilliant filmmaking and features outstanding performances, but it's neither profound enough nor pop enough to be great -- it's mournful, serious, beautiful and, finally, pointless.

    Jan 8, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Ridley Scott thrusts us so close to the combat that all we see is a lot of whirling and thrashing, a sword thrust here and there, a spurt of blood, a limb severed. There's hardly a scene that is cleanly and coherently staged in open space.

    Jan 8, 2014 | Full Review…

    David Denby

    New Yorker
    Top Critic
  • If there's a soft spot in your heart for the sword-&-sandal epic, then you'll swoon with giddy delight over Gladiator.

    Jan 8, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Gladiator


A great historical adventure of epic scale. From outstanding cinematography, great acting performances (especially by Crowe, Hounsou and Phoenix) to a really good plot, including all it takes in the genre: great battle scenes, intrigues, interesting characters. This movie has all it takes to be the kind of classic it already is. Especially the gladiator fights are breath taking and stand the test of time, rivaling Ben Hur's great chariot race. To top it off Hans Zimmer writes one of the most beautiful end credits songs to a very moving ending. Outstanding film-making by Ridley Scott. Especially recommend: the Extended Version with several additional scenes.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

An masterfully constructed epic concerning a general (Russell Crowe) of the Roman Army, next in line to be emperor thanks to his strong relationship to the current one (Richard Harris), before he is murdered in cold blood by his own son (Joaquin Phoenix) and the son sells the general into slavery after brutally murdering his family. The general becomes a gladiator, rising up through the rankings focused on enacting revenge on the emperor, and thus becoming a power political piece the newly crowned Caesar can not kill due to his popularity with the people of Rome. A soaring epic that nails almost everything right, with fantastic performances from Crowe and Phoenix that helped make them the movie stars they are now. This is a special, unique movie about the Roman empire and the way Scott captures it is utterly thrilling.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Most films require that the viewer identifies with the character to truly be engrossed with the film. If you can't feel something for the character, than the audience is lost. Luckily, in Ridley Scott's case, Russel Crowe is so captivating and convincing as a general loved by his troops and as a slave loved by the people that the movie really works. Possibly one of the greatest actors today, Crowe carries this epic film on his very capable shoulders. Not to say that he is the only reason this works. The supporting cast, most notably Connie Neilsen, buoy the film to new perspectives. Jacquin Phoenix definitely captures the egotisitcal persona he should display, stealing every scene he's in. Phoenix will surely be put on the map with Gladiator. But the real shining star in this film are the incredible action sequences which jolt the viewer right in with the opening sequences, as Maximus' true worth to the Roman Empire is displayed. Scott's camera work within these completed sequences takes a modern twist that really works for the gruesome scenes. Crowe will now get the respect he deserves for this collosal performance. Gladiator makes the most of its 2 and a half hours, marking a triumphant comeback for the long forgotten epics of the classic days of film. ALL HAIL MAXIMUS! 3 Stars 6-22-2000

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

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