Main cast: Brad Pitt (Achilles), Eric Bana (Hector), Orlando Bloom (Paris), Diane Kruger (Helen of Troy), Brian Cox (Agamemnon), Saffron Burrows (Andromache), Brendan Gleeson (Menelaus), Sean Bean (Odysseus), Julian Glover (Triopas), James Cosmo (Glaucus), John Shrapnel (Nestor), Julie Christie (Thetis), Garrett Hedlund (Patroclus), Rose Byrne (Briseis), Brendan Gleeson (Menelaus), and Peter O’Toole (Priam)
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Any resemblance in the plot of Troy to the story as told by Homer is coincidental.
I never imagine that I will say this, but I really miss Russell Crowe while watching this dull and woefully miscast movie. Brad Pitt’s Achilles is so ineffective that Achilles here is like the son of Fabio flexing his gym-honed muscles while pretending to play soldier games. It is bad enough that his bare buttocks get the most publicity in the movie promotional blitz (which aren’t any big deal), but I cannot tell him apart from the women in his love scenes. It’s like watching a lesbian love scene when they show Brad Pitt lying on his back next to two ladies in the beginning of the movie. Mr Pitt is not convincing as a popular Greek general, and his “grand speech” that is supposed to rouse and rally his men makes me giggle because he sounds like some small kid trying to pretend that he’s the big bad wolf.
Also, Orlando Bloom’s Paris is so bland that it is hard to imagine that anybody will fall for this guy. The fork in a high school cafeteria counter has more sexual appeal than this guy. Then again, Diane Kruger’s Helen is not interesting either. I wish they have cast some young man with real raw sex appeal to play Paris. I’ll get back to you on that one – really sexy young men nowadays are rare as they all seem to come out from the same Ken Doll Factory. Maybe Kate Winslet, with her voluptuous curves and looks, will be a better alternative to the more typical Hollywood beauty type that Kruger is.
The story? Oh, okay – Paris and Hector from Troy are visiting Sparta when Paris starts an affair with the ruler Menelaus’s wife Helen. Helen is supposed to be the face that can launch a thousand ships. One look at Ms Kruger and the ships will be bearing hamburgers on a Feed That Waif mission of mercy. Poor Hector is not happy when Paris smuggles Helen out of Sparta. Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon take the opportunity to invade Troy to avenge the insult and also to seize control Troy. Lured into the fray is Achilles, a popular Greek general whose invulnerability to weapons is glossed over.
Yes, there is no mention of Achilles’s bath in the River Styx as an infant. No pagan stuff to offend the audience, I guess. Then again, this movie also tries to remove all hint of homoeroticism by making Patroclus Achilles’s cousin. Not that this will stop any homoeroticism from showing up, as any reader of gay fiction can testify, of course, but if you ask me, this movie actually succeeds very well in stopping any of that “homo” stuff that can offend viewers by casting Brad Pitt as Achilles in the first place. Has this guy ever been sexy? He exudes zero chemistry with Paris’s sister Briseis, whose function in this movie is to get naked and de-gay Achilles when she’s not running around screaming peace and love slogans. Even more bizarrely, Achilles and Patroclus are the only soldiers in this movie without facial hair. Patroclus is young, but what’s Achilles’s excuse? The movie also doesn’t let him get dusty or dirty – don’t want to muss the hair now, darling – when everyone else is getting manly and dirty. Memo to Hollywood: pretty boys concerned with their hair aren’t sexy. Dirty and sweaty action men, now that’s sexy.
And you know who’s sexy? Hector. Eric Bana – hmm mmm, now that’s a man that should have played Achilles. Everyone in this movie has only one facial expression (Mr Pitt – constipated, Mr Bloom – smug, Peter O’Toole – lecherous, Ms Kruger – pouty) and Mr Bana is lucky that his designated facial expression of the day is tormented. In a script that bewilderingly paints everyone but Hector in a bad light, Mr Bana should write thank-you notes to Wolfgang Petersen because every other woman in the theatre watching this show leaves the building two-thirds in love with him.
And why not? Achilles is a complete prima-donna psycho (refusing to fight because the king doesn’t want to honor him, insisting that all is fair in battle and honor is everything, then going berserk when Hector kills Patroclus in a fair battle, killing Hector, and then mutilating Hector’s body like the hypocritical jerk he is, before crying over what he did – did someone order a slice of bipolar mania in the house?). Paris is a despicable coward. Helen is a self-absorbed moo-moo bitch. Briseis is just too stupid for words. The old men are all lechers, fools, and idiots.
Only Hector – the martyr, the honorable one, the loving husband, the doting father, the reluctant soldier, the pacifist, the idiot who is so honorable that he doesn’t just ditch everybody and run away with his family to tend goats in the countryside – comes off as a noble hero. Bana has the solid male presence, the reassuring masculinity, and the charisma to convincingly play Hector, and one can argue that the movie finally dies like a dying patient on life support finally kicking the bucket when Hector dies by Achilles’s hand. Unfortunately, there is a long time more after that before the movie ends.
The battle scenes in this movie are badly done too. They don’t engage my attention or emotions – they are just cold scenes of faceless people killing each other. Hector, the only person worth rooting for, convinces the audience that the war is pointless the moment he turns his pained eyes on Helen and realizes that Paris has doomed Troy with his reckless selfish action. When Hector dies for a war he doesn’t believe in, the audience is still expected to care enough to watch as the schizophrenic Achilles decides to turn his back on honor and fight only to save the idiot girl Briseis. Yes, that’s a hero worth rooting for, I’m sure.
I don’t know what this movie is trying to say. It isn’t a statement about the costs and wages of war – it instead glorifies the wrong player in the myth of the fall of Troy. To make things worse, it casts pretty boys without any character in the main roles, expecting the audience to be riveted by the sight of Mr Bloom’s boyish chest or Mr Pitt’s Aloe-gelled baby-oiled buttocks or his girly blond tresses to overlook the dull, badly paced everything else about this movie. They almost succeed with me, thanks to casting Eric Bana as Hector, and then they kill Hector off and I don’t care about the movie all over again. Bah.