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The Musketeer

Starring Justin Chambers, Mena Suvari, Catherine Deneuve, Tim Roth, Stephen Rea
Screenplay by Gene Quintano
Based on the novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Directed by Peter Hyams

IN SHORT: Lots of pretty pictures and nary a lick of fun anywhere to be found. [Rated PG-13 for intense action violence and some sexual material. 106 minutes]

We could say that it indeed is true that there is nothing new to be conceived in Hollywood, even if it is a story loosely based on characters created in a different country in a different century and brought to the screen way too many times before. But then we'd have to prove our point. So, accept the fact that there is nothing new in Hollywood and suffer through everything else stuffed into The Musketeer, a movie which redefines "bad".

More Western than period piece, with too much emphasis on production design and too little on the actor's performances, there is little we can say about the very pretty The Musketeer. Director Peter Hyams, it seems to us, wanted to make a John Ford western (not so, he wanted to make The Matrix) so he grabbed himself a copy of The Three Musketeers, hired a Hong Kong stunt designer (Xin-Xin Xiong) and had his way with it. The film may have some elements taken from that novel but no previous reading is necessary to understand what is on the screen. That's one of the few positive points. The other positive is that, despite the PG-13 rating, The Musketeer is so lightweight on the sex (Suvari in a bathtub and one love scene) and so heavyweight on relatively bloodless battles that my single digit nephew would love this sucker to death. There's one impaling early in the film but when the bad guy gets his, we're deprived of the pleasure of seeing the sword come poking through the shoulder blades.

All the violence is implied, from the killings of D'Artagnan's parents (and the kidlet's attack on the bad guy) at the beginning all the way through the final scene, which we've already complained about.

D'Artagnan (Justin Chambers), our hero, discovers that when he is old enough to enlist, the Royal Musketeers are no more. They've been framed by the Church for the murder of a Spanish diplomat (17th Century France is on the verge of war with England and Spain) and have been disbanded by the King. Athos, Porthos and Aramis, three musketeers that our hero first encounters, are drunk and bitter and none too enthusiastic as to the new kid's career choices. They do help him find a hovel in which to squat. There, D'Artagnan is smitten by Love in the form of Francesca the chambermaid (Mena Suvari, click for StarTalk). The pair will serve as intermediaries in secret negotiations between the Queen (Catherine Deneuve) and Lord Buckingham (Jeremy Clyde), representing the British Crown. But the evil machinations of the black garbed dastard Febre (Tim Roth), who serves as the strong arm of evil Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Rea), would see them all dead, and the King dethroned. Gee, that sure sounds like a good story. But take a closer look . . . What kind of a man is D'Artagnan 2001?

  • His parents murdered before his eyes, a boy vows vengeance and as an adult, dons a cape and... no, that's Batman.
  • When caught in a jam, a quick whistle from our do-gooder brings his faithful horse Straga (rhymes with Trigger) to his, that's anything Roy Rogers did.
  • A breathtaking fight scene is performed at the tops of ladders rocking from side to side, without support of a ledge to lean against. This, we have been told by eagle eyed readers, lifts from Jet Li's Once Upon A Time In China.
  • A band of outlaw heroes saves the Queen and is rewarded with medals and the applause of a grateful throng at Court... no, that's Episode Four of you know what, which itself is taken from every "we saved the Royal family" movie that's ever been done.

It's one thing to take a historical period piece and revamp it to reflect modern times. That usually means updating the language and attitudes of (17th Century) folk to that of (21st Century). The Musketeer tries to go for the sexual attitudes but manages to tongue tie its actors by having them deliver dialog which doesn't sound as if it belongs in either century. It doesn't help that star Justin Chambers spends most of his time posing, which is fine for pinup magazines and teen oriented websites, or showing off his athletic prowess in the fights which are more important to this flick than decent dialog or any kind of believable acting on the part of every member of the cast. As for that fighting, pay close attention to the Indian attack on the Stagecoach... sorry, the Evil Churchmen attack on the French equivalent of a stagecoach. While bad guys swarm all over the coach, from edit to edit their numbers are not the same. Sometimes they're on top. Sometimes not. We couldn't believe we would notice anything as sloppy as continuity errors in fight sequences, but we did.

As for the Evil Mastermind Richelieu, actor Stephen Rea spends most of his screen time looking like he desperately wants off said screen. If Tim Roth's Febre had the right kind of mustache and laugh, he'd be Snidely Whiplash. Chambers can't act and Suvari doesn't try.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Musketeers, he would have paid . . .


and we're being kind. Sometimes the awful movies are worth seeing in a theater just for the fun of catcalling at the big screen. The Musketeer is so awful that it's just appalling. Lovely pictures don't make up for lousy everything else. We've seen worse, so a buck it is.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.