Murder inspires acts of unflinching bravery, at least where Russell Crowe's Maximus is concerned. A former general whose wife and son are killed by a sick sinister emperor (Joaquin Phoenix), an enslaved Maximus uses his grief to pummel through gladiatorial competitions in ancient Rome. Just before he enters the Colosseum one day, Maximus is half-taunted, half-encouraged by his trainer Proximo (Oliver Reed's last screen credit) to "win the crowd" and to "entertain them." Raucous cheers welcome him into the arena. Maximus uses exactly 45 seconds to dispatch six competitors, and jettisons a sword into the expensive seats. The cheers of the audience descend into whispers, then silence. "Are you not entertained?" Maximus roars at the crowd. "Is this not why you are here?" The pace of the sequence is so quick, it felt like my own head had been chopped off. It's the whip-fast editing, combined with Crowe's ferocious swordplay, that rams the scene home.