After 100 years of movie versions of The Three Musketeers, here we are with the Paul W.S. Anderson take on the story — and, yes, it’s even dumber than the 1939 one with the Ritz Brothers and Don Ameche. That’s no small accomplishment. It’s also probably Anderson’s best movie, an accomplishment of much less note. No, I am not saying it’s good. I’m saying it’s so dumb and goofy and ridiculous that it’s actually kind of hard not to like on those terms. The film leaves little doubt that this version of the story is going to be on the absurd side when its opening sequence, which pauses to introduce each musketeer by name, involves the titular trio and Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) stealing some Leonardo da Vinci plans for airships from a vault in Venice. Not only is the vault booby trapped, but it boasts pressure sensitive floors and 17th-century laser-beam motion detectors, the latter being no match for Milady’s gymnastic abilities. Yes, it appears that this movie’s Milady would be equipped to do battle with zombies at the rip of a boddice. This is all just a set-up to show her perfidy — she drugs the boys and gives the plans to her co-conspirator, the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom with a 1950s Elvis hairdo) — and establish why Athos (Matthew Macfadyen) is next seen as a bitter and cold fellow. Well, he and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Stevenson) have all become relics without much purpose in Cardinal Richelieu’s (Christop Waltz) France, but Athos suffers more because of the duplicity of his lady love, see? The strange thing about the film is that, even with all the embellishments and the non-period dialogue (of which there’s a ton), it also insists on cramming in as much of the book’s plot as possible. The film gets bigger and goofier as it goes, and more full of dubious explosions and CGI effects. By the time we’ve had airship battles and the villainous Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen) stuck on the roof of Notre Dame (thanks to a spire skewering an airship) for the big showdown between him and D’Artagnan, you fully expect Quasimodo to show up. And you’re almost sorry when he doesn’t. It’s that kind of silly.
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Writer: Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak
Cast: Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Christoph Waltz, Mads Mikkelson, Juno Temple and Gabriella Wilde