The Musketeer is an old-fashioned re-telling of the classic story of 17th century political intrigue and adventure, combined with a few Matrix and Crouching Tiger inspired fight sequences. The plot centers on the young and vengeful D'Artagnan and his quest to become one of the famous royal guards to King Louis XIV of France. Justin Chambers plays D'Artagnan, who must prove his worth, avenge his past and help bring the Musketeers back from a Church imposed suspension of duties. Stephen Rea plays Cardinal Richelieu, who, along with his overly ambitious 'associate', Febre, played by Tim Roth, is scheming to gain control of France and bring an end to the King and his Musketeers once and for all.
You may have read the words 'old-fashioned' above to mean 'corny', and, in this case, you would be right. This film lacks the charm and wit of the Michael York series of Musketeer films and the flashy style of the 1993 Disney remake, so what, you may ask, does The Musketeer have to offer? In a nutshell, The Musketeer offers wooden acting, combined with an embarassingly uninspired screenplay, that results in snickers from the audience during all the wrong moments. However, that snickering serves its purpose, saving the audience from complete and utter boredom on more than one occassion.
On the good side, or the bad side as the case may be, The Musketeer also offers Tim Roth as the villianous Febre. In contrast to the film's other performances, Roth portrays Febre with an admirably gleeful wickedness, creating the only interesting character in the entire movie. Director Peter Hyam may have allowed Roth to run with this role, or Roth may have simply refused to listen to his direction. Either way, the correct choice was made. Not to give anything away, but, when considering the blandness of the others in this story, I can almost sympathize with Febre's evil motives. Poor guy, that Febre, so completely misunderstood!
On the technical side, or lack thereof as the case may be, The Musketeer offers some great swordplay sequences that are marred by bad lighting, choppy editing and visible wires. Perhaps I've missed something, but when did musketeers learn to fly? In addition, there is a rousing cross-country carriage chase, which, based on the everchanging shadows and sky, must have been filmed over a period of three or four days. The carriage chase sequence also features some dandy 17th century jet-contrails in the background, so be sure to add them to your 'movie goofs' database. Maybe the contrails were created by very high flying musketeers, but I doubt it.
The Musketeer isn't entirely bad, but it isn't that good either. The overall look of the costumes and settings is impressive, and the fights are interesting, if not very believable. So, if you're looking for swashbuckling adventure, go see The Musketeer, then, by all means, continue your search!
Directed By: Peter Hyams
Written By: Gene Quintano, based on the novel "Les trois mousquetaires" by Alexander Dumas
Starring: Justin Chambers, Pierre Castaldi, Tim Roth, Catherine Deneuve, Jan Gregor Kremp,
Nick Moran, Stephen Rea, Steven Spiers, Mena Suvari
Rated: PG-13 (Violence / Mild Sensuality)
Running Time: 106 Min.