The Three Musketeers (PG-13)
Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown
There are luscious possibilities to be had in the notion of a gearpunk Three Musketeers. Da Vinci's vault, for one.
Imagine a secret hiding place in Venice in which Leonardo da Vinci hid all his plans for cool crap that his contemporaries weren't ready for. Did I mention it's in 17th-century Venice? 'Cause it is.
And gorgeous guys with amazing accents wearing deeply sexy leather and wielding swords and awesome facial hair have to bust in and steal the coolest of da Vinci's plans. How could any of this be a bad thing?
From this apparently fail-safe beginning, wherein The Three Musketeers fails — da Vinci's vault gets completely destroyed, and no one even stops to wonder, "Hey, guys, this might be a bad idea, it's, you know, da Vinci's vault" — said flick continues to fail in what should have been a no-brainer.
This should have been the next Pirates of the Caribbean: funny, sexy, raucous adventure with neat-o dueling and a whole buncha goofy nonsense. Instead, it is leaden where it should be light. It steals shamelessly from The Princess Bride and The Empire Strikes Back without understanding what makes those movies work so gloriously. It's graceless and charmless. It reels from painful banter. It's the epitome of empty, soulless corporate filmmaking. It's directed by Paul W.S. Anderson as if he were crafting a theme-park ride instead of a story.
Oh — and it's in 3D.
If Alexandre Dumas wrote a Resident Evil movie, this would be it. This is a terrible, terrible movie. It takes an hour to get itself into gear. It has the splendidness of the entire Renaissance as its playground, plus the additional fantastical elements of gearpunk, and the best it can come up with is jokes about bird shit. It completely inverts the plot about the French queen (here played to little avail by Juno Temple), turning her into a dupe instead of an active player in her own life. It reduces the role of Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), making her sassy instead of dangerous. It diminishes our iconic triumvirate of musketeers — Matthew Macfadyen as Athos, Luke Evans as Aramis, and Ray Stevenson as Porthos — by turning them into the Three Stooges.
It tries to tell us that actor Logan Lerman is an action hero in the making. And in this sea of awfulness, Gabriella Wilde must be singled out for her slack-jawed robotic kabuki faux hotness as Constance, the cardboard love interest for Lerman's wannabe Musketeer D'Artagnan. The mind boggles at the notion that she was the best option for this role.
Look, I don't care if the movie attempts to rewrite the entire history of the 17th century. I don't care about the random accents. I don't even care about the absurd coincidences; they're in the book. I just want it all to have some spirit, some heart, some fun.
But there's an entire third act here that is completely superfluous. There's a heist that has no reason to be, and then ends up not happening anyway, so we're all like "WTF?" again and again, and finally, at the end of it all, "Seriously — what the fuck?"
The Three Musketeers cheats. It's flat and empty. And it ends with the threat of a sequel.