"Wanted: A Better Director"
What You Need To Know:
As in previous versions, THE MUSKETEER excels at describing the political intrigue surrounding the French Court in the 17th Century. Director Peter Hyams fails to direct the action sequences with much aplomb, however. His Hong Kong style action sequences are murky and are composed and edited poorly, especially in the movie’s first half. Moreover, the script, which otherwise is usually good, suffers from an overly serious hero, whose earnest lines are delivered with little panache or character by Justin Chambers. Finally, although there are only a few lightweight vulgar references, there is, however, a solid revenge motif. Also, the movie’s moral and Christian elements should have been made stronger
(Ro, BB, C, Ab, L, VV, N, A, M) Romantic worldview with some solid moral & Christian elements (including boy does brief Christian ritual at parents’ gravesite) as well as some elements that may be considered anti-Christian, including a revenge motif wherein hero unduly threatens a Roman Catholic official; 3 obscenities, 1 profanity & deceitful religious leader rebukes villain for mocking the Church; lots of action violence including swordfights, men on horseback chase coach, fighting, threats of violence, ambassador murdered, kidnapping, villain threatens young girl with knife, villain kicks boy, villain murders boy’s parents, pistols fired, rifles shot, & extensive battle scene that also includes canons firing; much older man spies on his young niece taking a bath & tries to force himself on her in another scene but she threatens to castrate him, plus women slyly proposition men in a raucous pub serving alcohol; naturalistic male nudity & implied nudity when young man accidentally enters room where young woman is taking a bath; alcohol use; and, miscellaneous kidnapping, deceit, political corruption, & revenge motif, most of which are rebuked.
Photography, period detail and bombastic direction overwhelm the story, action and acting in THE MUSKETEER, another version of Alexandre Dumas’ fabulous story, THE THREE MUSKETEERS.
This time out, Justin Chambers plays the bold D’Artagnan, whose parents are murdered by Cardinal Richelieu’s black-hearted henchman Febre, played by Tim Roth. Fourteen years later, D’Artagnan travels to Paris to become one of the Musketeers, the king’s special guards. Instead of heroes, however, he finds aimless, disheveled and bitter men who have been stripped of their commission because their captain has been imprisoned for a political murder that Febre has actually committed. D’Artagnan helps them free the chivalrous captain and earns their respect.
D’Artagnan runs into the lovely Francesca, a feisty chambermaid (played by Mena Suvari) whose mother was the Queen’s dressmaker. Francesca enlists D’Artagnan on a daring mission to protect the Queen, who is trying to prevent war between England and France. Febre is trying to start the war, much to his political cardinal’s chagrin. The cardinal is afraid that the chaos of a war could backfire on his desire to make sure that the Church remains the strongest political force in the country, with him as the head of it, of course.
The Queen swears D’Artagnan to secrecy. Consequently, however, the Musketeers mistakenly think D’Artagnan has abandoned them. When Febre kidnaps the Queen and England’s Lord Buckingham, D’Artagnan must regain their trust to save the day.
As in previous versions of this classic tale, THE MUSKETEER excels at describing the political intrigue surrounding the French Court in the 17th Century. Stephen Rea as Cardinal Richelieu is particularly good at displaying all the subtleties involved. Director Peter Hyams, however, fails to direct the action sequences with much aplomb, even though he has brought in a couple of Hong Kong style action experts to spice up the story. His action sequences are murky and are composed and edited poorly, especially in the movie’s first half. There is little or no pithy dialogue during these sequences, and the actors’ faces are mostly hidden during them, which undercuts their credibility and dramatic energy. The STAR WARS style adventure music also does not seem to fit and, for once, really does become overbearing.
As for the rest of the elements in the movie, there are a few strained corny moments. For instance, audience members snickered at one scene showing the close relationship between D’Artagnan and his favorite horse. Moreover, the script, which otherwise is quite good, suffers from an overly serious hero, whose earnest lines are delivered with little panache or character by Justin Chambers.
All of this is too bad because THE MUSKETEER is a very clean movie. There is almost no foul language and only a few lightweight vulgar references. There is, however, a solid revenge motif in the movie. This motif dilutes the positive moral and Christian elements in THE MUSKETEER, which could use some additional strengthening.
Thus, of all the movies produced in this genre in recent years, 1998’s THE MASK OF ZORRO and THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK remain heads above the rest. MOVIEGUIDE® readers might want to rent those on video again if they haven’t done so already. These movies are not only more entertaining; they also provide a stronger Christian witness overall. THE MUSKETEER should have borrowed from their fine example.