The Three Musketeers (review)

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Luke Evans and Matthew Macfadyen in The Three Musketeers

More Like the Three Stooges

There are luscious possibilities to be had in the notion of a gearpunk Three Musketeers. Da Vinci’s vault, for one. This movie posits a secret hiding place in Venice in which Leonardo da Vinci hid all his plans for cool crap that his contemporaries weren’t ready for. Did I mention it’s in Venice in the 17th century? Cuz it is. And gorgeous guys with amazing accents wearing deeply sexy leather and wielding swords and awesome facial hair have to bust in and steal the coolest of da Vinci’s plans, like, say, for a dirigible warship. How could any of this be a bad thing?
From this apparently unfuckupable beginning, which The Three Musketeers fucks up — da Vinci’s vault gets completely destroyed, for one, and no one even stops to wonder if hey, guys, this might be a bad idea, it’s, you know, da Vinci’s vault — said flick continues to fuck up what should have been a no-brainer. This should have been the next Pirates of the Caribbean: funny, sexy, raucous adventure with a wink and pinch and some good flirting and some neato dueling and just a whole buncha goofy nonsense. Instead it is leaden where it should be light. It steals shamelessly from The Princess Bride and The Empire Strikes Back without understanding what makes those movies work so gloriously. It is graceless and charmless. It reels from the painful banter. It is the epitome of empty soulless corporate filmmaking.

It is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil: Afterlife, Death Race) as if he were crafting a theme-park ride instead of a story.

It is in 3D.

If Alexandre Dumas wrote a Resident Evil movie, this is what it would look like. He’d kill himself afterward, but this is what it would look like.

Holy shit, this is a terrible, terrible movie. It takes an hour to get itself into gear. It has the splendidness of the entire Renaissance as its playground, plus the additional fantastical elements of gearpunk, and the best it can come up with is jokes about bird shit. (I blame screenwriter Alex Litvak for this, because he also wrote the pointless and charmless Predators. It’s hard to imagine that the other credited screenwriter, Andrew Davies, had anything at all to do with this very very bad movie: he’s the guy who write all those breathless plummy BBC adaptations of classic novels, like the best Pride and Prejudice ever. I bet his Three Musketeers would rock.) It completely inverts the plot about the French queen (here played to little avail by Juno Temple: Year One, The Other Boleyn Girl), turning her into a dupe instead of an active player in her own life. It reduces the role of Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich: Stone, The Fourth Kind), making her sassy instead of dangerous. It wastes the delicious talents of both Christoph Waltz (Water for Elephants, The Green Hornet), as Cardinal Richelieu, and Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Kingdom of Heaven), as the Duke of Buckingham, as villains. It diminishes our iconic triumvirate of musketeers — Matthew Macfadyen (Robin Hood, Frost/Nixon) as Athos, Luke Evans (Clash of the Titans) as Aramis, and Ray Stevenson (Thor, The Other Guys) as Porthos — by turning them into the Three Stooges.

It tries to tell us that Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Gamer) is an action hero in the making. I once had hope for this kid, but he does not inspire anything positive here.

In this sea of awfulness, Gabriella Wilde must be singled out for her slack-jawed robotic kabuki faux hotness as Constance, the cardboard love interest for Lerman’s wannabe Musketeer D’Artagnan. The mind boggles at the notion that she was the best option for this role… for any role in any film.

Look: I don’t care if the movie attempts to rewrite the entire history of the 17th century. I don’t care about the random accents. I don’t even care about the absurd coincidences: I know they’re in the book. I just want it all to have some spirit, some heart. Some damn fun.

But there’s an entire third act here that is completely superfluous. There’s a heist that has no reason to be, and then ends up not happening anyway, so we’re all like “What the fuck,” and then “What the fuck” again, and finally, at the end of it all, “What the fuck fuck?”

The Three Musketeers cheats. It’s flat and empty. It ends with the threat of a sequel.


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Sat, Feb 27, 2021 7:02pm

Agree (mostly)

Gabriella Wilde was execrable, Matthew Macfadyan was phoning in his performance.

I thought Lergan was fine and seemed to be giving, if not his all, at least a serious portion of himself. Christoph Waltz as Richelieu was perhaps the finest performance.

BTW, Lergan was excellent in ‘Fury’ so it was very premature to write him off.