The Three Musketeers (originally a book by Alexandre Dumas) is indisputably a classic work, which has stood the test of time and continues to draw readers back to 17th century France. Such a leviathan of literature is, in short, well outside the scope of a reviewer who likes feasting on film-tastrophes. So imagine my surprise when Paul W.S Anderson stepped up to the plate and mugged the unsuspecting viewer with his re-imagining of this classic tale. Anderson who is known for his direction of the Death Race and Resident Evil franchises was an unlikely choice to peruse the subtleties of a classic renaissance fiction but $75m later, he once again came out swinging with this shocking punt!… Thanks Anderson you still got it!
The story begins in a rural French village where a young D’Artagnon (Logan Lerman) waves off his parents to seek fame and fortune in Paris where he hopes to become one of the legendary Musketeers. Fuelled by some bizarre advice from his father D’Artagnan struts into Paris where he promptly insults the four most dangerous men of the time period. Three of the four; Athos (Matthew Mcfayden), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) unite with D’Atangnann when they are faced with a common enemy the evil Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) and his plot to usurp the King of France (Freddie Fox).
Anderson is tremendous in that he comes out from the start, punching history in the face. No character possesses a period accent or even a period attitude so references which include modern poker table slang and John Wayne films jump out of the script like thrown knives. This of course will strike you as a minor complaint when you witness the ninja in Anderson’s opening sequence! Turning his attention from abusing of the 17th centuryAnderson starts in on the plot where inexplicably he has two of the main character shot within the first 20 minutes of the film. Sadly, it’s no dice for the horrified viewer who begins to hope that such a blow must surely end the film early, as one character does not react to her wound while the other simply brushes it off with some flexing.
Interspersed with gloriously tragic moments, like when D’Artagnan intimates to a young damsel while fighting that Tuesday is his sexy day, Andersonintroduces something which immediately catapults the film into WTF territory. A monstrous idiot in drag shuffles onto the screen and informs us that he is the King of France. This revelation is closely followed by the introduction of airships. The Three Muskateers then descends into chaos culminating in a climactic airship fight. In the aftermath we find that some of the main bad guys come out looking good and that by his second day in Paris D’Artagnan is a card carrying Musketeer whom King Philip relies on for relationship advice.
I could go on about the terrible plot-enhancing devices, the 50ft leap D’Artagnan manages from a standing start, the insane martial arts fighting style used or the laughable nods to people and place of the time period but you’ll just have to watch it. Either way this is a fantastic film full of moments that beggar believe. I really enjoyed it and feel its import no one tells Anderson what the 17th century was actually like…. if we stay really quiet, he might make a sequel.