Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:45 - Released 9/7/01
Just when we didn't need another film version of Alexandre Dumas's classic novel The Three Musketeers, here comes one. Director Peter Hyams (2010, End Of Days) oversees yet another retelling of the famous "all for one/one for all" story, adapted for the screen by Gene Quintano, whose writing credits include such venerable titles as Police Academy 3 and Operation Dumbo Drop. The Musketeer offers beautiful sets and costumes with Crouching Tiger- inspired combat choreography by Xin Xin Xiong, but suffers from lackluster performances by almost its entire cast. Hyams is hoping that the newfangled wall-climbing swordplay will compensate for the inexperience of the young and relatively unknown cast members populating most of the central roles. It doesn't.
This story of 17th-century French fencer D'Artagnan (Justin
Chambers) and his enlistment in the king's elite guard known as
the Musketeers (who, by the way, don't carry muskets) is a slow,
plodding affair with little to recommend it beyond the inventive
action scenes and the oppulent set decoration. Chambers and his
romantic opposite, American Pie/Beauty Mena Suvari, create
zero chemistry in their supposed passion for each other, and the
film's main villain, played by Tim Roth, is well over the top.
Roth seems to be competing with himself; his character is basically
a French version of his Gen. Thade (from Planet
Of The Apes) in the overacting category. Except this time
he's wearing leather instead of rubber.
The film's opening text informs us that in the mid 1600s, France's
King Louis XIII (Daniel Mesguich), suffering from illness, is
weak and ineffective, and the country is really being run by his
devious chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Rea). In fact,
Richelieu has appointed his own guardsmen to replace the king's
aging and increasingly powerless musketeers, and he has also enlisted
the bloodthirsty mercenary Febre (Roth) to agitate tensions between
France and Spain.
D'Artagnan has harbored a grudge for Febre from the moment
he watched the rogue officer kill his parents. Now a man, the
young swordsman meets up with musketeers Athos (Jan Gregor Kremp),
Porthos (Steven Spiers), and Aramis (Nick Moran), whose main hobbies
seem to be drinking, throwing knives at a picture of the cardinal,
and squabbling among themselves. Hoping to join their group and
wage battle against the cardinal's guard, he helps them free their
leader from prison. Impressed by his swordplay and re-invigorated
by his youthful exuberance, they again take up arms against their
dastardly foe in the red riding hood. But just as the musketeers
plan a major fight to thwart Febre's plan to murder the British
Lord Buckingham (Jeremy Clyde), D'Artagnan disappears into the
woods. On a special mission. With his girlfriend and the queen.
As swashbuckling action movies go, this film is about as average as you can get. It provides fight scenes in all sorts of unnecessarily difficult places (roof beams, carriage tops, tall ladders, etc.), but if you're looking for thoughtful acting or an insightful script, you might want to look elsewhere. Occasional attempts at humor usually fall flat, and the principal actors seem to be waiting for a more interesting part to come their way. Chambers is bland and Roth is overbaked. Rea plays his character as if he's either distracted or stoned; ditto for Suvari. And the supporting musketeers are largely interchangeable. Though it may appeal to fans of swordplay and Hong-Kong-flavored action choreography, this film is definitely not One For All. ***