Director Paul Anderson’s recent adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ novel “The Three Musketeers” features clichéd writing and recycled visuals that fail to recreate the adventurous feel of the classic story.
The young and brash D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) arrives in Paris determined to become a Musketeer, but finds the legendary heroes disillusioned after a failed mission the year before. Meanwhile, the corrupt Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) conspires against the adolescent King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) for control of France, revitalizing the need for the sword-wielding heroes.
Anderson emulates the appealing visuals of films like the 2009 action drama “Sherlock Holmes” in his loose re-imagining of Dumas’ novel. He also draws from the Wachowski Brothers and Zack Snyder, nearly copying entire visual sequences from “The Matrix” and “300” with over-the-top, computerized action sequences. This lack of a new creative touch makes the story — adapted many times before — feel even more like old territory.
But Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak’s script is the source of most of the film’s many shortcomings. The majority of the narrative focuses on Richelieu setting his plan into place. D’Artagnan and the Musketeers are underdeveloped secondary characters in a story that works better when focused on their triumph. As Anderson spends such little time showing who the protagonists are and why the audience should care about them, the elaborate action sequences have no tension and elicit little excitement.
The dialogue is often confusing and fails to show the characters as individual people with developed personalities as they directly tell each other how they feel at a given moment rather than express their emotions through their actions. Even with an intriguing cast of experienced actors that includes Orlando Bloom as the Duke of Buckingham and “Pride and Prejudice’s” Matthew Macfayden, the script leaves something to be desired as the actors recite cheesy one-liners that do not lend themselves to a meaningful performance.
Overall, Anderson’s “The Three Musketeers” is a detached and boring spectacle that can’t be saved by even some of the most well-known heroes of classic literature.
“The Three Musketeers” was directed by Paul Anderson and written by Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak.