“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius... Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” In a formulaic Hollywood revenge flick, it’s a cheddar-packed line that’d have your hackles rising rather than the hairs on the back of your neck. So what makes Gladiator more than Marked For Death in a toga? It’s not the scope, the jarring combat or even the astounding special effects. Hell, even Troy had those. No, it’s the way Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott keep the focus on the brutally personal amid the towering buildings, cast of CG thousands and intriguing political machinations.
Gladiator is all about a man in pain, a man looking to return to his family even if he has to die to do it. Yes, the swordfights and mano-a-tiger tussles are fantastic but it’s the heart behind them that keeps the adrenalin pumping. It makes Gladiator not just a good movie, but a great one.