The Three Musketeers review

On the plus side, no Bryan Adams

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For anybody who thought the one thing missing from Alexandre Dumas’ classic story of swashbuckling derring-do was giant anachronistic airships, Paul WS Anderson’s silly action-based adaptation will be the answer to their prayers.

Everyone else will be praying for this preposterous folly – released, inevitably, in eye-gouging 3D – to stop committing the sort of artistic vandalism the 1993 Brat Pack version could only dream of.

Musketeers gets so many things wrong it’s difficult to know where to start. With Logan Lerman’s D’Artagnan maybe, an American-accented stripling with the hair of a Springer Spaniel? Orlando Bloom’s bouffanted bad guy, a smirking fop with more mince than a meat pie? Or perhaps Milla Jovovich’s Milady, a vamping minx whose dresses prove no bar to her scrapping and somersaulting as if she’s in The Matrix?

Given all that nonsense, it is hardly surprising the titular trio get lost in the crush. Then again, that might well be down to their dull contributions, the combination of Matthew Macfadyen’s funereal delivery as Athos, Ray Stevenson’s hackneyed Oliver Reed impression as Porthos and Luke Evans’ monkish earnestness as Aramis making them three of the most mundane heroes in recent memory.

With Christoph Waltz as a scheming Cardinal Richelieu and Mads Mikkelsen as his one-eyed muscle Rochefort, Anderson’s picture does not want for recognisable faces.

What it lacks in abundance, alas, is élan, panache or joie de vivre. Instead, a series of over-cooked set pieces (an opening raid on a Venice vault, a dirigible face-off above Notre Dame) turn what might have been a zesty frolic into one huge, lumbering behemoth.

Who cares if the Musketeers retrieve the diamond necklace on which the marriage and security of France’s callow young king (Freddie Fox) depends? Not us, and not Anderson either, the Resident Evil director seeming more concerned with giving wife Jovovich extra scenes and setting up a sequel few will hanker for.

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Freelance Writer

Neil Smith is a freelance film critic who has written for several publications, including Total Film. His bylines can be found at the BBC, Film 4 Independent, Uncut Magazine, SFX Magazine, Heat Magazine, Popcorn, and more.