In Review: The Three Musketeers (2011)

By Adam Vaughan

Hot-headed and floppy-haired wannabe, D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) ups sticks and travels to Paris where he falls in with the King’s remaining soldiers, the loyal three musketeers, Athos, Aramis and Porthos (Matthew Macfayden, Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson).

Together they attempt to foil a plot concocted by Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) and Cardinal Richeleu (Christoph Waltz in full moustache-stroking mode) to seize the French throne. But director Anderson isn’t really interested in all this. He’s much happier indulging in idle swordplay and staging sub-Pirates airship duels.

On more than one occasion in Paul W.S. Anderson’s remake of The Three Musketeers, characters stop buckling swashes and pointing their swords through the screen to talk about their clothes. “Fashion favours the bold”, says Orlando Bloom’s Buckingham to the buffoonish King Louis (Freddie Fox), who obsesses about what colour is in this decade. A trivial point, one might say, although these exchanges form the film’s entire plot, the only brief moments of respite from inexplicable action set-pieces.

Yes, the many adaptations of Alexandre Dumas pére have all been farces of sorts, but at least they had more to say than just “does my bum look big in these pantaloons?” When characters aren’t fretting about colour co-ordination and accessorising, the bones of the plot become visible (the term ‘plot’ is used loosely).

The film’s greatest misstep is casting Orlando Bloom as foppish villain Buckingham. Fitting with the film’s comic strip aesthetic, he plays the baddie as a cardboard cut out mash-up of Dick Dastardly and Adam Ant. For everything wrong with The Three Musketeers, nothing is as bad or as misjudged as Bloom’s performance.

Worryingly, the scriptwriters seem to think that there is potential for a sequel. One would guess that things can only get better. Perhaps in the next instalment, we’ll have an in-depth seminar about the appropriateness of men wearing tights in 17th century France. Who knows?

Adam has awarded The Three Musketeers one Torch of Truth

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