Prior to this version of Alexander Dumas's famous novel, Hollywood tortured audiences with Leonardo DiCaprio as "The Man in the Iron Mask." Prior to that, we got Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and Chris O'Donnell in "The Three Musketeers." So recent history would suggest that remaking this particular story isn't all that easy and that perhaps, were it to be done again, one might choose a person with demonstrated talent to tackle the task.
Brilliant as Hollywood always is, they chose director Peter ("End of Days") Hyams. Furthermore, the filmmakers concluded that the way to add new depth to this story was to add the sword-fighting special effects one would associate with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." So basically, it's the same old characters except that now they fly around on wires while flailing their swords at each other. To make matters even worse, Justin Chambers got cast as D'Artagnan. Chambers looks kind of like a Chris O'Donnell that's been tossed in the dirt and kicked a few times. This is not a good thing.
If the filmmakers wanted to bring a Chinese element to this story, they should have hired a Chinese director to do it and at least make it seem consistent. Hyams has some seriously deranged notions about what constitutes good action. The music in the film sounds like the rejected score from "Superman." Each time somebody is hit in the stomach with a sword, it sounds as though somebody had just thrown a ripe cantaloupe into a brick wall. Hyams, like so many other directors, shoots his action scenes close up, shakes his camera about, and cuts way too much. This point cannot be emphasized enough, but: I'D LIKE TO SEE WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!! Is that so hard?
D'Artagnan's parents are murdered by the evil, tax-collecting Febre (Tim Roth), who's supposedly doing the work of Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Rea). Both oppose the Musketeers and the King and Queen (Catherine Deneuve) of France. During his attempts to avenge his parents, D'Artagnan falls for Constance (Mena Suvari), an uppity innkeeper's niece.
Apparently, the French accent was too hard for Suvari to even attempt. As for Chambers, he's so upstaged by Roth that most of the time he seems like an infant who's wandered onto the stage by accident. To make this movie seem hip, there's lots of funny dialogue. Unfortunately, the dialogue itself -- while clever in the sense that the words are somewhat amusing -- is almost oblivious to the characters, their situations, or reality itself. For instance, Constance gets shot and while D'Artagnan kneels over her, about to cry, she utters, "I'm not dead. Go kill him." Sure, this is an unpredictable thing to say since bullets are usually cause for pain and death and not witty banter, but like the movie, under a little scrutiny it appears purely stupid.
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