The Musketeer


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Alexandre Dumas is spinning in his grave. Not only has he missed out on the royalties of innumerable cinematic versions of his popular 17th century adventure yarn The Three Musketeers, but now has to suffer the ignominy of a wholesome youth from the New World (Justin Chambers) in the central role of D'Artagnan, coupled with acrobatic fight sequences, choreographed by a Chinese gentleman from the Far East, that are as French as chop suey.

In the international world of action pictures anything goes, as long as the body count is high, the sexy young heroine has a bath scene and things blow up at regular intervals. The Musketeer provides all that, plus a baddie who relishes every sadistic minute.

Tim Roth was wicked in Rob Roy, where he tended to overdo it. Here, as Febre, a hitman for the power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Rea), he is mad as well - "Whose throat must I cut now? A little boy... and a nun" - and possibly one reason for seeing the movie. Mena Suvari is the other.

She was the high school cheerleader who excited Kevin Spacey in American Beauty. Here, she is the chambermaid in a seedy Parisian inn, whose mother was the Queen's dressmaker. When D'Artagnan comes to stay, she's smart enough not to let him go. He's young, fit and naive, while she's beautiful, francless and streetwise.

The plot is so complicated you don't have to worry about it. D'Artagnan wants to hunt down the man who murdered his parents - guess who? The Musketeers have been disbanded and hang around pubs, feeling sorry for themselves. King Louis doesn't have a clue what's going on, although the Queen (Catherine Deneuve) is doing some deal with the English to stop a war. With Spain? Doesn't matter.

Porthos and that lot don't figure highly. They go through the "all for one, one for all" routine purely for the tourists. This is D'Art's gig. The fight sequences could have been nicked from a Jackie Chan movie, especially the final swordout with Febre, involving ladders.

Chambers is a great improvement on Josh Hartnett. He doesn't stand there like a male model in search of a jeans designer. He gets on with it.

As for the film, it's an insult to the memory of poor Alexandre, as well as to the intelligence. Kids, too young to be allowed into Spider-Man, might appreciate the swordplay, acrobatics and cold-blooded murder.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2002
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The Musketeer packshot
Dumas' musketeer gets a chop-socky makeover.
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Director: Peter Hyams

Writer: Gene Quintano, roughly based on The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Starring: Justin Chambers, Tim Roth, Mena Suvari, Catherine Deneuve, Stephen Rea, Nick Moran, Steven Speirs, Bill Treacher, Jan Gregor Kremp

Year: 2001

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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