FILM REVIEW H
Read the Book
The Musketeer as we’ve seen it beforeBy Jennifer L. Ford
Directed by Peter Hyams
Written by Gene Quintano
Starring Justin Chambers, Mena Suvari, Tim Roth, and Catherine Deneuve
Supposedly based on Alexandre Dumas’ classic, The Musketeer is the latest attempt to beat some new life out of a work that has been redone time and time again to mediocre effect. The tale of The Three Musketeers, which has been reinvented practically every decade of the twentieth century, has now entered the twenty-first.
The trailer of The Musketeer, which depicts scenes that look as if they could have been taken directly from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, vows to show us The Three Musketeers “as we’ve never seen it before.” And the trailer is good. People clash swords while dangling from ropes, precariously balanced on ladders, and on top of rolling barrels. We even witness D’Artagnan, played by a dashing Justin Chambers, do a butterfly twist off a countertop. Admittedly, it would be near impossible to live up to a trailer like this, but The Musketeer doesn’t even try.
But could we really expect anything better from director Peter Hymas and writer Gene Quintano? Quintano, the creative genius behind Operation Dumbo Drop obviously isn’t going to do anything great, but when you team him up with Hymas, who brought us the masterpieces Timecop and End of Days, we can expect nothing but pure, unadulterated trash. And that is exactly what we get.
The movie begins with D’Artagnan’s parents being killed by Febre (played by a tired Tim Roth). Although that isn’t exactly in the book, it could be over-looked since it gives us a suitable bad guy. D’Artagnan is then taken in by a family friend and trained to be a Musketeer. Fourteen years pass, and we see D’Artagnan all grown up and determined to be a Musketeer and avenge his parents’ deaths. He goes to Paris, and finds the Musketeers in dire straits. Some very one-dimensional versions of Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, seem to serve no real purpose in this film except to loosely tie it to Dumas’ work. He learns of the strife between church and state, and vows to protect his king no matter what. So far, this is not unlike the original tale.
Then the movie loses all coherency. D’Artagnan falls in love with Francesca (Mena Suvari), a chambermaid who is somehow in the queen’s favor. The Queen decides to protect France herself, and manages to get kidnapped along with Francesca. D’Artagnan has to enlist the aid of the Musketeers to save them. They do. They all live happily ever after. Yada yada yada. The plot is ridiculous, so why even worry about it?
In fact, there is only one good part of the movie, the fight scenes. Action choreographer Xin Xin Xiong shows off his skills, and the fighting is spectacular. The final fight between D’Artagnan and Febre is something that should definitely be seen by everyone who likes sword-fighting and Hong-Kong cinema.
Unfortunately, the fights are few and far between, and they were all shown in the trailer. Furthermore, the fight scenes only last for about twenty minutes of the two-hour movie, and that leaves a lot of time to stare at your watch. Your watch will be the much more interesting than anything taking place on screen. Do yourself a favor -- watch the trailer, and then read the book.