Whatever your relationship (ardent, platonic, nonexistent) to the Alexander Dumas story about Athos, Porthos, Aramis and the lionhearted musketeer intern, D’Artagnan, there’s a word for the latest screen edition of “The Three Musketeers”: whatthehell?
Seriously: What the hell?
ho favored the callous aggravations of the recent Guy Ritchie-directed “Sherlock Holmes,” a film without which “The Three Musketeers” would be unthinkable, may forgive the grating, chaotic brand of storytelling and filmmaking here more easily than I.
The director, Paul W.S. Anderson, brings to this costume party the same battering-ram sensibility he brought to “Alien Versus Predator,” “Death Race” (which I liked, actually) and the ongoing “Resident Evil” franchise.
The 1844 Dumas adventure classic is now a steampunk’d migraine. Clashing swords — 3-D swords in your face! — purloined jewels and court intrigues no longer suffice. This movie couldn’t give a rip about that stuff. It exists for its digital airborne sailing vessels and deadly retro-futuristic flamethrowers.
Somewhere in there you’ll find a trio of cynical, out-of-work musketeers, the casualties of “budget cuts,” as one of them notes early on.
“I thought you’d all be a little more … heroic,” says D’Artagnan, played by a haircut in search of an actor in search of a performance named Logan Lerman.
Wrong movie! These three are homicide machines, or at least maiming machines, given to slow-motion gamer-style “kills.”
No matter the clothes, the musketeers may as well be called The Dirty Quarter-Dozen.
In the prologue Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans, the one most likely to be mistaken for Orlando Bloom, who plays the Duke of Buckingham) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) sneak into Venice on a special-ops mission.
Their accomplice, Milady de Winter, is played by Milla Jovovich, who is married to the director, which explains that.
Soon she betrays the lot, allying herself with Cardinal Richelieu on the one hand and the Duke of Buckingham on the other.
Christoph Waltz snivels as Richelieu while Bloom swans around and consistently lets the energy dribble away from his dialogue scenes.
Not that director Anderson cares about dialogue. But he’s a numbskull with action.
Rewatch the 1974 Richard Lester “Three Musketeers” sometime. That impudent entertainment, both plush and merrily slapdash, had little to do with Dumas, but it had a spark to call its own.
“The Three Musketeers” (1 star)
A poor version of the classic Dumas tale, focusing far too much on action and mayhem. All court intrigue and swordplay is lost.
Rating: PG-13 for violence.
Showing: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre, Everett Mall, Galaxy Monroe, Marsyville, Meridian, Metro, Oak Tree, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.