Review: The Three Musketeers (12) / Director: Paul W. S. Anderson / Screenplay: Alex Litvak, Andrew Davies / Starring: Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Milla Jovovich / Release Date: Out Now
The Three Musketeers, as reimagined by Paul WS Anderson in his own unique way, was a huge box office floperoo this past Autumn. Whilst the film has flaws, it’s the first film I have seen made in the wake of Pirates of the Caribbean that actually seems to get what made us like that film in the first place. Considering this, it’s a surprise that this wasn’t a big hit. It’s definitely a film that has a certain camp quality to it but it has action scenes that take the breath away and is just a really good time at the flicks that has something for everyone.
The story deviates somewhat from the original stories by Alexander Dumas in that it reimagines the Musketeers as ninja like spies with cool weapons who work for the King of France. On one mission to Italy to steal some blueprints that Da Vinci created for the ultimate weapon, Athos (Matthew Macfayden) Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) are betrayed by Athos’ lover Milady (Mila Jovovich) and the blueprints are stolen by the dastardly Duke of Buckingham (an outrageous Orland Bloom). Back in France the Musketeers are disbanded by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) and spend their days drinking on the streets like any other peasant. This is where they encounter D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) whose spirit and vitality reinvigorate them to get back into the business of defending King and country and lead them to the discovery of Richelieu’s schemes to create a Royal scandal and thus lead to war with England. There are sword fights, there is romance and heartbreak and there are awesome battles scenes involving flying heavily armed airships.
Say what you will about Paul WS Anderson, but at least he can film a coherent action scene. What he may lack in subtlety and nuance he makes up for in creating exhilarating action scenes that you can actually follow on screen. Sadly this is a rarity with most directors preferring to shake the camera about like someone having a fit on top of a washing machine. Anderson pulls back and uses speed ramping almost as much as Zack Snyder to really highlight what is going on. The Three Musketeers has some cracking set pieces. It has the same level of excitement as the best moments from Pirates of the Caribbean and the recent The Adventures of Tin Tin.
Predictably the accents are all over the place in this film, the Musketeers are clearly English, Christoph Waltz and Mads Mikkelsen sound European and Logan Lerman is just an American. Nobody even attempts a French accent at all but it doesn’t matter when the film is as entertaining as it is. It would have been nice to have a little more development for the Musketeers themselves. When Athos and Milady’s torrid romance reaches its inevitable conclusion you don’t really feel the emotion the characters seem to be going through and D’Argtanan’s romance is a little wet. The script also goes through a bit of a sag in the mid-section as the various schemes and allegiances shift all over the place but it comes together brilliantly with the airborne battle sequence and a cracking ending.
With The Three Musketeers, Paul Anderson has finally made a film that feels complete. All of his previous efforts looked very nice but lacked a satisfying final act and thus felt fatally flawed. The Three Musketeers is a film that manages to be a brash re-invention of an old story as well as a brilliant piece of Sunday afternoon entertainment.