The new epic, starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, will be theatrically released in cinemas by Sony before becoming available on Apple+.
The official premise reads:
'A look at the military commander's origins and his swift, ruthless climb to emperor, viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine.'
Phoenix stars as Napoleon alongside Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim, Ben Miles, Ludivine Sagnier, Matthew Needham, Youssef Kerkour, Phil Cornwell, Ian McNeice, Paul Rhys, John Hollingworth and Mark Bonnar.
Major critics have been allowed to view the movie and there is a general consensus that Phoenix and Kirby are excellent in their respective roles, while some criticism was pointed at the bloated runtime.
“For all its brawn and atmosphere and robustly choreographed combat, this is a distended historical tapestry too sprawling to remain compelling, particularly when its focus veers away from the central couple. While Scott can be commended for his ambition, neither he nor (David) Scarpa manage to build those many plot pieces into a fluid narrative.” - David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter.
“A deliciously insinuating portrayal of the doomed emperor from Joaquin Phoenix, whose derisive face suits the framing of a bicorne hat and jaunty tricolour cockade. Scott doesn’t detain the audience with metaphysical meaning and certainly doesn’t withhold the old-fashioned pleasures of spectacle and excitement.” - Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian.
“A historical epic which is constantly on the lookout for subtle ways to undercut historical epics. Scott’s take on Napoleon is distinctively deadpan: a funny, idiosyncratic close-up of the man, rather than a broader, all-encompassing account." - Catherine Bray of Empire.
During the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte quickly rises through the military ranks. As a general, he seizes power in a coup in 1799 and is crowned leader. He decides to wage war against European nations and expands his empire. Meanwhile, he also tries to impress his adulterous wife Joséphine, with whom he has a volatile relationship.
"A series of accomplished battle sequences looking for a better movie to connect them. One of the problems is that David Scarpa’s script tries to pack a lot of life into the running time of a single film.” - Brian Tallerico of RogertEbert.com.
“A stinging character study entombed within a sweeping epic that starts like a house on fire before stumbling through the climactic years of its subject’s life with all the grace and purpose of the Austrian army trying to flee Austerlitz. Napoleon works best whenever it reads the French emperor for filth, which it does early and often.” - David Ehrlich of IndieWire.
“An awe-inspiring achievement, although it may leave you with a greater appreciation of Scott’s leadership skills than of Napoleon’s. The film serves as a terrific precis of Napoleon’s career, a beautifully illustrated Wikipedia page that ticks off most of the major events in his adult life.”
“One of Scott's finest features in almost two decades. The film can feel like it’s in a race to squeeze everything in, while the essential politicking that unfolds on the fringes and in back rooms is never as gripping as when Napoleon and Josephine’s deeply unhealthy relationship plays out. - Jordan Farley of TotalFilm.