Many people may go see "Troy," the new Wolfgang ("The Perfect Storm") Petersen film based on Homer's "The Iliad" and immediately accept Brad Pitt as the perfect Achilles. He's tan, muscular, and has the long, blond hair. Unfortunately, I couldn't shake the sense that I was watching Floyd, the pot-smoking couch potato Pitt played in "True Romance," running around in sandals, wielding a sword.
Casting is, in fact, the big problem in this film. For all of Pitt's good looks, he consistently hearkens back to Floyd as though he were Marlon Brando recalling "The Godfather." Pitt has an uncanny ability to stare off into space, extending his eyeballs into the void as if to say, "I'm sad, contemplative and intense all at the same time." Then he swivels his head like some runway model. Really, is that acting or the effects of a bong hit?
Achilles sports the bong-hit smirk when Priam (Peter O'Toole), King of Troy, comes to beg for his son Hector's body. As everyone should already know from high school, Achilles is sitting on the beach with King Agamemnon (Brian Cox) and the Greek army, trying to figure out how to breach the walls of Troy and retrieve Helen (Diane Kruger), who's been abducted by Paris (Orlando Bloom), another of Priam's sons.
Hector is played by Eric Bana and it's disorienting to see The Incredible Hulk get an ass-kicking from Floyd. The source of all this conflict is Paris, who not only steals Helen, but turns out to be a complete wussy on top of it. In order to win back some degree of honor after wimping out in his fight with Helen's husband, Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), Paris bones up on his bow and arrow skills. Now, while I certainly had my doubts about Paris's ability to do anything remotely heroic, I was pretty damn sure Legolas could put that arrow through Achilles's heel. And while Paris is in Troy practicing his shooting, Boromir -- I mean, Odysseus (Sean Bean) -- finally figures out how to breach the walls of Troy. Meanwhile, the original Hannibal Lecter (Cox) is giving orders to "The General" (Gleeson) on how best to defeat "Lawrence of Arabia" (O'Toole). No wonder I was confused.
Petersen uses the convenient "inspired by" credit instead of the more constraining "based upon" so that he can change enough of Homer's work to appeal to modern audiences while also deflecting the criticism of crazed Classics professors likely to run their own Trojan horse up to Wolfgang's front door during their summer break. Combine several annoying deviations and the roll call of baffling casting choices and I couldn't help but feel besieged by "Troy."
To spread the word about this Troy review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.