Film review: THE THREE MUSKETEERS from Built for Speed

The oft-filmed tale of the Three Musketeers gets a cartoonish cgi make over in this latest adaptation starring Orlando Bloom, Milla Jovovich and Christophe Waltz. Hopes of a tasteful and detailed adaptation of the Alexander Dumas classic should be abandoned as the original story’s themes of honour and valour amid the tumult of 17th century Anglo-French conflict are submerged beneath a torrent of computer-generated action sequences.

For those unfamiliar with the story, the Musketeers are like French King Louis XIII’s personal sword fighting Special Forces unit. With England and France observing an uneasy truce, musketeers Athos (Matthew McFadyen), Porthos (Ray Stephenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) have no war to keep them occupied so they drink and fight with the soldiers who serve the nefarious Cardinal Richelou (Christophe Waltz). When the Cardinal, the evil Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) and the English fiend Lord Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) plot the King’s demise, the Musketeers, their brash new member D’artagnan and the audience (optimistically) see an opportunity for some ass kicking adventure.

We could at least have hoped for an energetic romp like Richard Lester’s 1973 version but this soulless mix of cgi and steam punk anachronism is neither exciting nor funny. It’s also beset by the more irritating clichés of contemporary action films including (yet again) someone sliding on their knees in slow motion under a hail of bullets.  Also, can one of these evil despots please get some decent soldiers, the Cardinal’s henchmen are so astonishingly incompetent and so easily whooped there’s never any danger for the Musketeers.

A big problem with this film is that the titular three Musketeers are too often shoved into the background giving little time for their characters too develop.   There’s too much focus on D’artagnan who, as an arrogant teen brat, doesn’t come close to cutting it as hero.  Christophe Waltz, famous for his role as a Nazi interrogator in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, has come in for some unfair criticism for his role here but he’s appropriately oily as Richelou. Bloom, however, doesn’t impress as the villainous Buckingham, he looks like he’s doing a second rate Blackadder impersonation.

This should have been exciting and fun but it’s hollow and uninvolving and looks more like an extended ad for the Three Musketeers computer game.

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