DIRECTOR: Paul W.S. Anderson.
CAST: Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, Freddie Fox, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Christoph Waltz, Juno Temple, Gabriella Wilde, Mads Mikkelsen, James Corden.
SYNOPSIS: After leaving the home he shares with his parents, D’Artagnan (Lerman) heads to Paris and meets the former Musketeers, Athos (Macfadyen), Porthos (Stevenson) and Aramis (Evans). Far removed from their former glory, they are all too soon swept up in a plot to seize the French throne and D’Artagnan must help them secure King Louis’ (Fox) position within Europe.
Paul W.S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers has its heart in the right place. It’s a real shame, then, that so many extraordinarily talented actors are wasted to assure this is a vehicle for Logan Lerman. As much as you try and embrace the whole silliness of it, not a lot seems to work. And how did a film of 110 minutes feel so long?
It is a big surprise to say that Orlando Bloom comes out of this a lot better than most, mainly due to his dialogue being more then the mere, monotone clichés the Musketeers are given. Quite obviously relishing in the opportunity to play the baddie for once, he most definitely has the swagger, but not quite the commanding voice that would have given him some extra edge here.
It is also safe to say that Logan Lerman will not be harmed post-Musketeers, working extremely hard as D’Artagnan, but still appearing to struggle with the madness at times. He does exactly what is required and his D’Artagnan is cheeky and full of spirit, but the object of his desire, Constance (Wilde) possesses no personality and is little more than a pretty face. There’s absolutely no doubting that Lerman has talent and he wins a lot of brownie points for committing so wholeheartedly here.
The fact that three of Britain’s most interesting actors can be so badly scripted really explains the majority of what is wrong with this film. Macfadyen is an incredible Shakespearean actor whose spirit appears completely drained by this project, with Stephenson and Evans not faring much better. While their sword fighting (which they all did themselves) is impressive and the camaraderie good when the rare opportunity arises, all three are absolutely wasted. Stephenson somehow manages to squeeze a bit of life into Porthos, but Evans is desperately in need of more dialogue, with his studious and quiet interpretation of Aramis never given a chance to be remembered.
Paul Anderson must be told that he needs to leave wife Milla at home sometimes. Sharing no chemistry with Athos and appearing to only be there to give Anderson the chance to utilise her in Matrix-style fight sequences, her Milady has little heart and is a real, wasted opportunity for a gutsy and exciting Countess. While these fight sequences are well executed, they tell us nothing new about Anderson’s capabilities as a director and are nothing we haven’t seen before.
James Corden’s Planchet could easily have been a silent extra, but it feels like Anderson wanted another version of Ricky Gervais’ character in Stardust – also take note of how Take That feature in the credits here, too. As much as I like Corden, Planchet becomes annoying, unnecessary and forced into the script. But this is in no part Corden’s fault. Thank goodness, then, for Juno Temple and Freddie Fox who are undoubtedly the best thing about the film. I’ve yet to see Temple put a foot wrong and she is both engaging and elegant as the Queen, with Fox (younger brother of Emilia, don’t you know) an exciting new talent who is the only reason to laugh out loud during the 110 minutes. Both funny and purposefully awkward, this pairing is a delightful breath of fresh air.
By the film’s final stages, the audience are alienated by never understanding the motives for anything that is carried out by Richelieu or Rochefort and Waltz and Mikkelsen both seem completely out of their comfort zone and a little confused as to what they’re doing there. Waltz doesn’t appear to be having any fun and it would have been very interesting to see somebody a little more off-the-wall take this role – John Malkovich, anybody? The film also suffers at the hands of its score, with Paul Haslinger obviously longing to be Hans Zimmer. The patchwork of Inception, Sherlock Holmes and, most obviously, Pirates Of The Caribbean is incredibly distracting.
Yes, the film offers us a sequel promise at the end, but there cannot be a great deal of hope for this being green lit. Annoyingly, the film almost seems to hit its stride by the close, but unfortunately The Three Musketeers merely ends up like a very expensive (and very long) episode of the BBC’s Merlin or Robin Hood.