The Three Musketeers (2011)

(In theaters, November 2011) Since Alexandre Dumas’ Les Trois Mousquetaires endures as a perennial adventure novel, it makes sense that every generation would seek to adapt it to its own liking.  In 2011, this means an action-adventure film heavily influenced by steampunk tropes, blending cheerfully anachronistic machines with swordfights and derring-do.  It won’t work if you’re predisposed against big dumb action B-movies.  But if you do enjoy big dumb action B-movies, then this is a fine example of the form.  Director Paul W.S. Anderson is a competent visual stylist, and his instinct for action sequence is better than most of his contemporaries.  Holding back the quick-cutting out of concern for audiences watching this film shot in 3D, Anderson gives a good kinetic kick to The Three Musketeers and does justice to the fast-paced script.  (Which is surprisingly faithful to the plot beats of the original novel, action movie theatrics being considered.)  A number of capable actors hold their own in iconic role, whether it’s Anderson-favourite Milla Jovovich as Milady de Winter, Matthew Macfadyen as the deep-voiced Athos, and Christoph Waltz as the Cardinal Richelieu the film deserved.  A number of well-executed action beat enliven the picture, all the way to the swashbuckling finale in which two lighter-than-air warships battle it out over Paris.  Classic French literature has seldom felt so dynamic; there’s a definite Resident Evil tone to the film, all the way down to an epilogue that sets up the next installment.  I’m game for any sequel, but keep in mind that I’m an indulgent viewer when it comes to action pictures.  And before anyone asks, I am atoning for this good review of The Three Musketeers by finally reading the Dumas book.

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