The bland lead the bland in THE MUSKETEER, the three-thousandth screen
adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's novel. This time this twist comes from Hong
Kong martial arts master Xin Xin Xiong's action choreography. And I do mean
"twist," since he has the musketeer twirl his opponents to death, causing them
to die more from dizziness than sword wounds.
Director Peter Hyams (END OF DAYS), working from a DOA script by Gene Quintano
(POLICE ACADEMY 3 and 4), isn't able to coax a decent performance out of any of
the actors. Justin Chambers, Jennifer Lopez's fiancé in THE WEDDING PLANNER, is
horribly miscast as D'Artagnan. His utterly lifeless and charmless work,
however, is a bit better than the pathetic performances by the other musketeers,
Jan Gregor Kremp as Athos, Steven Spiers as Porthos and Nick Moran as Aramis.
The strong supporting cast is wasted. Mena Suvari (AMERICAN BEAUTY), who can be
so impressive in contemporary stories, is embarrassingly bad in this costume
drama, playing Constance Bonacieux, a commoner who is a confidant of the queen.
Stephen Rea gives an unintentionally funny performance as Cardinal Richelieu.
Normally reliable Tim Roth, as the villain Febre, turns in a subpar piece of
acting that is, nevertheless, head and shoulders above everyone else's. Even
Catherine Deneuve is flat as the queen.
If you close your eyes and listen to David Arnold's stirring music, you can
convince yourself that the movie has some merit. Just don't make the mistake of
opening them again.
"You have an interesting fighting style," one of D'Artagnan's enemies remarks.
"Where did you acquire it?" I wanted D'Artagnan to answer that he discovered it
while watching Chinese movies. Now that would have been funny. And since the
movie failed miserably as an action drama, any attempts at humor would certainly
have been appreciated.
THE MUSKETEER runs a long 1:46. It is rated PG-13 for "intense action violence
and some sexual material," and would be acceptable for kids around 6 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 12, who gave the movie **, said it was like "Jackie Chan
meets CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON in the 17th century." He liked some of the
action sequences but, overall, rated the film as just okay. The more he thought
about the movie; the less he liked it.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes