Paul W.S. Anderson’s new retelling of Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale features his usual action-oriented antics: explosions galore and hi-tech freeze-frame combat sequences. Anderson’s muse, Milla Jovovich, is also back as Milady de Winter, a lady not all that interested in waiting patiently for young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) and the three down-on-their-luck Musketeers (Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson and Luke Evans) to save the day from Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom channeling a caddishly evil version of Johnny Depp) and the weaselly Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz phoning in another villainous turn from a foreign call station).
What is the point of transforming a classic serial into a Playstation game? The filmed versions of this tale that matter thrill us because they feature derring-do performed by real men in tights. Lerman isn’t ready to use a Gillette razor, which means that he is obviously not ready to fence. Stevenson is a big hammy guy, a NFL defensive back, but certainly not nimble enough for the tights (unless he’s taking on the role of Little John in Robin Hood). Which leaves us in the conventionally capable hands of Macfadyen and the surprisingly elegant Evans, who disappears behind all of the fakery in the forefront.
Who needs performances and subtlety? At some point, audiences will find themselves caught up in the sheer mania of the spectacle, but will end up wanting some adherence to physical logic, or at least the swashbuckling spirit of the times rather than the smash-mouthed approach favored today. Grade: D+