If there's one, immutable law of cinema, it's this: there's no such thing as a completely bad musketeer movie. NO. SUCH. THING. Tinker with the format all you like, but the sheer number of action sequences, hissable bad guys and opportunities for buckling of the swash means even the not-so-good versions are still enjoyable.
The Musketeer tries its damndest to change this law. It ditches the bulk of Alexandre Dumas' original plot, replacing it with TV-movie gunk about vengeance for the death of D'Artagnan's parents. It bolts on jarring wirework action sequences by Hong Kong stunt whiz Xin Xin Xiong (which feel like they're from a different film). It muddles together cheap-looking sets and a Euro-pudding cast. But despite all this, the Musketeer Rule holds true. The film remains, well, perfectly enjoyable.
Why? Well, although Justin Chambers is pretty handy with a blade, it's not down to his D'Artagnan. Or Mena Suvari's simpering love interest. Or fellow musketeers Nick Moran (an oddly cockney Aramis) and Steven Spiers (Porthos). It's not even the appearance of the artist-formerly-known-as-Arthur-Fowler (Bill Treacher) as seedy boarding house owner Bonacieux. No, most of the credit for dragging The Musketeer kicking and screaming into enjoyability goes straight to one man: Tim Roth.
As leering, black-clad über-villain Febre, Roth is clearly having the best time he's had since, oh, his leering, black-clad über-villain in Rob Roy. Whether hissing lines like: "That's the second time someone's called me mad this evening..." or challenging D'Artagnan to a swordfight with the words "Time to dance", he renders the film fun by sheer force of pantomime personality. And the Musketeer Rule lives to fight another day...