Oliver Stone has always been a fascinating filmmaker. His films are consistently engaging, antiestablishment commentaries on the world as he sees it. He pulls no punches and has the rare ability to stay true to his vision.
That was all true until ‘Alexander.’ With his new film, a passion project some 15 years in the making, Stone has crafted the most dual-natured work of his career, and certainly of this year so far.
The story ought to be linear enough. Alexander, a young Greek prince, becomes a young Greek king bent first on completing his father’s plans to conquer Persia, and then on ruling the world. But the film refuses to focus, and every aspect of this show alternates over its nearly three-hour runtime between the sublime and the stultifying.
The casting is the most varying facet of all. Colin Farrell is quite good as the titular great hero, displaying a vulnerability and tenderness as well as great strength and determination like the rock star that Stone views the character as. Comparison to Brad Pitt’s similar turn in ‘Troy’ earlier this year seems inevitable, but where Pitt had better material to work with and a superior supporting cast, Farrell stands on his own and as such delivers the superior performance.
Previous Stone stars Val Kilmer (‘The Doors’) and Sir Anthony Hopkins (‘Nixon’) both do well with the limited material they’re given in what amount to extended cameos as King Philip II and Ptolemy respectively, as does the reliable Christopher Plummer as Aristotle. Not faring as well are Angelina Jolie as Alexander’s mother Olympias