It isn’t just a re-visioning. It’s a butchery.
The victim of Hollywood’s latest full-scale slaughter of a classic tome is The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas’ tale of intrigue, betrayal and royal politics in 17th-century Europe where courageous young men were bound by honor, fealty and loyalty to a cause higher than themselves.
Instead, what we saw was Paul W.S. Anderson’s evisceration of the values of the timeless story, giving us an incongruously anachronistic movie where characters speak in modern American lexicon and ships aren’t just behemoths of the sea, they are behemoths of the air too.
The movie hews closely enough to the source material, at least during the first few minutes when D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) has his meet-cute with each of the titular musketeers Athos (Matthew MacFadyen ), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans) on separate occasions, and earning a challenge to a duel from all three. They were, however, arrested by Captain Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), the leader of the Cardinal’s guard, for violating the law against public duelling.
The quartet quickly dispatched of the 40 or so guards that came to arrest them, and as soon as they did, D’Artagnan discovers that the very reason why he came to Paris in the first place does not exist anymore – the Musketeers have been disbanded by the Cardinal after they have failed (somewhat) their Special Ops mission to retrieve the blueprints to Leonardo da Vinci’s airships, a dirigible-warship hybrid of some sorts. Turns out the Musketeers were betrayed by their fourth Special Ops agent, Milady De Winter (Milla Jovovich), who had turned over said prints to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).
That’s because Anderson apparently tries to do a lot of things at once. He tries to make a “gritty reboot” of a beloved story and at the same time pander to an audience weaned on the Pirates franchise. I get the pandering, but the gritty reboot? Er, not so much.
Anderson’s aimless direction trickles down to his cast as well. Bloom, Jovovich and a criminally misused Christoph Waltz (as Cardinal Richelieu) seemed to be in on the joke. Waltz says his lines with relish bordering on camp; Jovovich acts like she’s in another movie (Resident Evil, perhaps?), while Bloom is just plain terrible. MacFadyen and Evans were appropriately dour and serious – maybe, nobody told them they would star in a comedy?
But none of the schizophrenic cast brought the whole film down as spectacularly as Logan Lerman did, labouring under a hairpiece that seemed to have been jettisoned by the Ju-on crew. He was dull and charmless, just like the rest of the movie. No more roles for him, please.
Anderson, like all proficient hacks, borrows heavily from pseudo-visionaries. Scenes, styles and themes were directly ripped off from Pirates of the Caribbean, The Matrix and even Ocean’s 13 (Yup, you’ve read it right). And seriously, seriously, please… enough of the bullet time technique in action scenes. It was cool in the Matrix but more than a decade later, it’s limping and dragging its legs and begging for retirement.
So, if you could choose any of the films to watch for the long weekend, skip this one altogether. I tell you, Praybeyt Benjamin seems like a better choice by a mile.
Notes While Watching Three Musketeers:
1. The scene where our heroes commandeered Buckingham’s airship and were chased by a bigger dirigible by the Cardinal’s men seemed like a scene straight from Master and Commander: Far Side of the World – or at least Bacolod Spice thought it did. I disagreed. Anderson is too big an idiot to watch a classy, intelligent film like that Russell Crowe-starrer.
2. Logan Lerman, the guy who played D’Artagnan, has as much acting talent as the cobwebs accumulating under my desk. Which means he has a good chance of making it big in Hollywood, home of no-talent actors.
3. What is Christoph Waltz doing in a movie like this?
4. I thought Jack Black crapping on Jonathan Swift’s legacy was the worst desecration Hollywood can do to classic literature. Boy was I wrong.
5. Number of facepalms executed in the movie: 56. Number of times I wished I was watching another movie instead: 45. No of yawns: 34. Number of moments when I sat up because I found the plot interesting: 0.
6. You know it’s a bad film because it has a) Jack Black, b) Somebody who wants to be Jack Black. Really, that Planchet character was soooo annoying, I was hoping for his death after he said his first lines.
7. Now, I know what a bad script looks like.
8. I sincerely hope Lerman takes his paycheck and spends it wisely, like enrol in acting lessons, perhaps?
9. SPOILER. In the book, both villains and good guys were dying. The benevolent (and ultimately stupid) Constance Bonacieux, for instance, and the malevolent Milady de Winter both died. Here, they spared both characters. Sacre bleu!
10. The film was soooo bad it made Man in the Iron Mask look like high art.