The Musketeer


"See how much easier it is to write about movies that suck?"

- Numskull

The Musketeer (2001)

Director: Peter Hyams

Producer: Moshe Diamant, Rudy Cohen

Writer: Gene Quintano

Cast: Justin Chambers, Catherine Deneuve, Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Tim Roth

Running Time: 104 min.

Plot: Director-cinematographer Peter Hyams' fresh new take on Alexandre Dumas' classic adventure tale, The Three Musketeers. Newcomer Justin Chambers stars as D'Artagnan, a dashing swordsman whose courage and willful nature place him at odds with powerful forces in 17th century Paris.


MISTER GIL'S REVIEW: The tagline for the film was:

"As you've never seen it before."

And I hope I never see it again.


NUMSKULL'S REVIEW: I hate people who talk during movies. It's very rude. Even if the movie is in a foreign language...or if it's silent...or if it just plain sucks...people should only open their mouths to eat, drink, breathe, and maybe administer oral sex (and if you wonder where they spit the wad when they're finished, think about all those times your feet have stuck to the theater floor).

I saw The Musketeer today, and I almost...ALMOST...broke my own edict on this matter. There came a point, perhaps two-thirds of the way into the film, where I almost...ALMOST...yelled:

"What the FUCK kind of cut was that?!?!?"

The cut in question came during a scene in which the hero's love interest is being confronted by some villainous henchmen. She tries to get away, she draws a knife, she screams, and so forth...and then...WHILE SHE IS STILL STRUGGLING TO GET AWAY...the picture FADES TO BLACK. I was reminded of the ten-second "intermission" in "Monty Python & The Holy Grail" which JOKINGLY (key word there) takes place in the middle of King Arthur's perilous crossing of The Bridge of Death over The Gorge of Eternal...uh, Peril.

It was just the latest in a long series of questionable (that's putting it nicely) editing decisions that plague The Musketeer from start to finish. Even in Hollywood, it's rare for a story to be told in a manner as nonsensical and fragmented as this. Key events...the musketeers disguising themselves as members of the King's kitchen staff, for example...are taken for granted. The film brazenly ignores the concept of cinematic continuity by skipping over brief but important scenes (or perhaps I should say "What would have been" brief but important scenes) and going right for the next action sequence (more on these later), confusing the hell out of the viewer in the process. On more than one occasion, you very well might find yourself saying: "Why the hell are these guys fighting?" Another factor which contributes to this problem is the fact that the actors sometimes fire off their lines as quickly as possible, with no pauses to allow the audience to soak it up or for dramatic effect. It's almost as if they were afraid they were going to run out of film and they had to get the "boring, talky" parts over with as fast as possible. Either that, or the performers were simply embarrassed to be saying some of the things they do. If that's the case, I don't blame them. The dialogue in this movie is as thin as the paper on which it was printed.

Two things prevent this movie from being a complete failure: the fight and action scenes choreographed by Xiong Xin-Xin, and Tim "Why Am I Always The Bad Guy" Roth as (drumroll, please) the bad guy.

For the first: Let's see...a brawl in a tavern (one against several); a fight in a banquet hall and, subsequently, a kitchen (several against many); a chase/battle involving a carriage and some horses (one against many); a melee in a castle courtyard (many against many); and a sword duel taking place mostly in a room full of ladders (one against one). This last one has been accused of being swiped from Once Upon A Time In China. Not having seen that film as of yet, I won't comment on that, but I will say that the definition of "rip off" can vary widely from person to person. Besides, the human body can only do so much, you know? How many action films will be made before every type of fight scene that conceivably can be done HAS been done? Hmmm. Anyway, my favorite is the battle in the banquet hall/kitchen. There are few things in life that are better than seeing the contents of a boiling cauldron spill onto a man's crotch.

For the second: Tim Roth is one of the best actors out there. If you want a villain with great screen presence, Tim is your man. He was funnier than Jim Carrey in "Four Rooms" (even though Robert Rodriguez's segment is the only really good one), he was deliciously evil as the powdered wig-wearing bastard bad guy in "Rob Roy" (even though great villains demand great heroes with whom to do battle and Liam Neeson is anything BUT great as the title character), and he was convincingly seedy in "Gridlock'd" (even though that film had Tupac Shakur in it. Yeah, I know he's dead, but that doesn't make him suck any less). Roth's performance in The Musketeer is substandard for him, thanks in no small part to the lackluster script. Still, though, a substandard performance from Tim Roth is better than an above-average performance from many other actors, and besides, the movie as a whole sucks so hard that he himself looks good by comparison.

There, now I've gone over the good points (all two of them). Everything else rots. The acting is uninspired, the musical score is far too bombastic, and, although, I have not read the novel (and, quite frankly, I don't plan to), I think it's a reasonably safe assumption that Dumas (who is surely turning in his grave) didn't have his characters flinging smartass remarks in the heat of battle or acting like twelve-year-olds in that absurd bath scene.

More reasons why this movie blows:

The opening scene demands at least twice the time it's given for proper dramatic effect.

When we first see "Teacher" (can't remember the guy's name), D'Artagnan is just a whelp. Then there's a credit sequence, and after that, it says: "Fourteen Years Later." D'Artagnan is now a young man, but Teacher doesn't seem to have aged a single day.

The all-too-familiar battle cry "All for one, and one for all" is shoved down our throats in too promiscuous a manner.

The Paris sewer system doesn't have Cleopatra's mummy floating around in it. (I demand the "Most Obscure Reference Of All Time" award.)

Why are Teacher and the Queen the only people in France who speak with French accents?

During the coach action scene, one bad guy manages to get onto the roof of the vehicle, and, instead of seizing the opportunity to carry out his murderous orders, he just wobbles there for about five minutes while D'Artagnan dispatches his buddies. Presumably, he wasn't on the high school gymnastics team.

When the black horse collapses due to exhaustion, we hear the poor beast desperately gasping and panting for dear life...yet its chest doesn't move.

When D'Artagnan arrives at the castle, believing himself to be on his own, his fellow Musketeers...about 100 of them...arrive on horseback, having taken the very same path, much to his delight. Either Musketeers can teleport, or D'Artagnan's sight and hearing are so poor that he can't see or hear an entire fucking army following closely behind him.

Remember that black horse? Well, wouldn't you know, it comes back to D'Artagnan like a loyal hunting hound, right when it's most convenient for it to do so. News flash: horses, after falling the way this one did, are unable to stand up without assistance, and we're given no reason to believe that somebody hoisted the animal back on its feet.

When D'Artagnan uses a rope to climb up to a tower window, an enemy soldier spots him from above, and...instead of simply cutting the rope with his sword and sending our hero to a rather messy death (or at least a broken back)...he gets a rope of his own and starts fighting while swinging 50 feet off the ground. I've often said people are stupid, but...can they really be THIS stupid?

D'Artagnan's girlfriend, or whatever you want to call her, doesn't seem to suffer any ill effects from getting shot in a rather vital area. Here's another news flash: In the 1600s, European physicians did not possess the ability to make bullet holes magically disappear (not without amputating the appropriate body part, anyway).


You know, I had to struggle to turn out that half-assed "Big Bullet" review that I just did a few moments ago. This one, on the other hand, practically wrote itself. In fact, half of the things you've read so far just popped into my head while I was sitting there in the theater, and I retained them like water in the middle of the month. See how much easier it is to write about movies that suck?

The Musketeer is a massive failure on almost every level. The editing is so choppy, I think the film was "cut" with one of those 17th century rapiers in a blacksmith's shop. Take the action and fight scenes, put 'em all together, and you've got 20 or 25 minutes worth of footage that's worth watching. The flick probably would have been a lot better off if Xiong Xin-Xin had directed the whole damn thing; his kinetic sequences, ironically, are the only ones where the camera lingers in one location for more than a minute or two. Ironically, the first thing we see in the staff roll at the end is "A Peter Hyams Film." Like he's proud of it. Cripes. If I had been involved in this mess, I would've taken the Alan Smithee escape route. There are far too many stupid mistakes and poor editing decisions to salvage any enjoyment from the movie as a whole. See it strictly for Xiong Xin-Xin's contributions or not at all.