The Three Musketeers is an altogether cumbersome modern-day interpretation of Alexandre Dumas’ novel of the same name engineered by director Paul W.S. Anderson.
D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), an implusive young adventurer, travels to Paris where he joins forces with the renowned Three Musketeers – Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) – to prevent a deplorable cardinal (Christoph Waltz) and his enticing spy (Milla Jovovich) from from appropriating the French throne and throwing Europe into war.
As you may have fathomed from the above plot summary, The Three Musketeers is a film based on the sum of its parts: when those parts work, it can be mildly enlivening, but when they don’t, it reminds you how unnecessary the whole commodity is. The problem is that, while teeming with potential from the outset, everytime the narrative makes an attempt to pick up steam and offer something tantalisingly new, it finds a way – whether it be through distracting CGI or Resident Evil-like action sequences that offer way too much slow-motion – to aggravate and remind audiences exactly how senseless it is. Instead of being a hearty, piquing adventure tale, it’s a simplistic swashbuckling, slapstick plethora of conflicting factors.
It’s not that Anderson and screenwriters Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies don’t try: they do, from Anderson’s attempted enveloping direction to Litvak and Davies’ fairly straightforward story. Their efforts, however, in addition to the swift pacing, moderately effusive action sequences – the final swordfight between D’Artagnan and Rochefort is very impressive, dodgy scenery aside – and the cast’s sprightly quality, never feels enough to capitalise on the baiting premise. That said, wit is something imparted in droves, and is, in turn, one of the more rewarding aspects of the experience.
Performances within the film can also be categorised this way. While Lerman, Jovovich and Macfadyen and Juno Temple as Queen Anne deliver energetic turns – Lerman and Temple, in particular, provide some of the films more witty moments, both through their ability to deliver their lines and their overall demeanour – the same can’t be said for the rest of the ensemble. Orlando Bloom appears in spirit only, never fully committing himself to the role of the Duke of Buckingham, and Waltz is who he always is, an actor who, at this point, doesn’t appear to have much diversity. And then there’s James Corden who, for reasons synonymous with his accepted annoyance, is utterly ridiculous as the Three Musketeers’ blundering servant.
In summary, The Three Musketeers, while doing everything in its power to aggravate the hell out of you, is saved by mild wilt, a relatively sturdy script and a steadfast cast that never quit.