Honor. Valor. Dignity.
You will find none of these in the latest rendition of “The Three Musketeers.” Instead, you get an amazingly grating concoction of stilted and bombastic dialogue (because speaking in English with a French accent is the same thing as speaking French), over-the-top dramatic tension married to a shockingly underwhelming cast and an utter devastation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic work.
In this $75-million fiasco, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson of “Resident Evil” fame, we’re first introduced to a historically skewed version of 17th-century European life, villages and all. But this idyllic scenery soon takes a turn similar to Guy Ritchie’s version of “Sherlock Holmes.” Who knew there were so many explosions back then?
And it’s obviously from the movie’s final scene that the studio would like to continue the volley of cannon fire. With a British armada commanded by Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), one of a handful of unimagined villains, racing toward France, and a character rising from a watery grave, there’s a chance there will be more of these movies.
Our Musketeers — Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) — are less than memorable. And that’s the good news. Logan Lerman, playing wannabe Musketeer D’Artagnan, has as much appeal as cancer. His listless acting and cringe-inducing romance with Gabriella Wilde — playing the Queen’s lady-in-waiting — leaves you wishing he had died from that gunshot wound…
The villains are only marginally better. Christoph Waltz’s Cardinal Richelieu and Orlando Bloom’s Duke of Buckingham both had potential to emulate Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, but sadly, they both took themselves far too seriously. And the movie’s femme fatale, Milla Jovovich’s Milady de Winter, only eludes a touch of sensuality, even when she defies death countless times.
The one spot of redemption revolves around the more obviously comedic aspects. Freddie Fox’s teenage monarch, Louis, earnestly hams it up with his never-ending obsession with out-dressing Buckingham. And James Corden’s Planchet provides the physical comedy. However, their efforts fail to alleviate your sheer boredom.
And you will be bored because, even with battling airships duking it out over the Continent, “Musketeers” lacks any actual interest in history or literature, much less with the movie’s source material. There’s nothing wrong with changing a story, but you better damn well do a better job than Anderson did with “Musketeers.”
One sword-fighting star out of five.