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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Review
The Musketeer (2001)

Directed by Peter Hyams
Cast: Justin Chambers, Tim Roth, Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Catherine Deneuve, Nick Moran, Steve Speirs, Jan Gregor Kremp.
2001 – 104 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for violence).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, September 7, 2001.

An embarrassment to all the talent involved, "The Musketeer," directed by Peter Hyams (1999's "End of Days"), is the latest adaptation of the novel by Alexander Dumas. Heavily advertised as a martial arts "reimagining" of the classic tale, choreographed by "Hong Kong legend" Xin-Xin Xiong (1998's Jean Claude Van Damme catastrophe "Knock Off"), the film has all of two martial arts-inspired sequences, both of which were shown almost in their entirety in the theatrical trailer. Promoted as something it most definitely is not simply to hide the truth from getting out, "The Musketeer" is a sluggish, soulless, senseless insult to, not only the late Dumas, but every viewer who goes into this picture thinking it's going to be an exciting adventure, rather than the painfully trite experience it truly is.

Screenwriter Gene Quintano (1995's "Operation Dumbo Drop") has taken several liberties from the novel which it's based upon, starting with the depiction of the other musketeers as drunken slugs with no defining characteristics, and occasional dialogue that unintentionally has 20th-century flavoring (the movie is set in the 17th-century). The usually elegant Catherine Deneuve (2000's "Dancer in the Dark"), receiving peculiar top billing with barely 10 minutes of screen time, plays the Queen of France. Her biggest moment arrives in a scene where she trudges through the sewers, of all places. "I hear there's crocodiles down here," she astutely remarks.

Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. The twisted story revolves around D'Artagnan (Justin Chambers), a young man who, as a child, saw his parents brutally murdered at the hands of Febre (Tim Roth). Brought up by a kindly protector named Planchet (Jean-Pierre Castaldi), D'Artagnan decides to seek revenge on his parent's untimely deaths by finding, and killing, the psychopathic Febre.

"The Musketeer" is a horrible, horrible motion picture from its first minute to its last. What is particularly amazing is how such an acclaimed literary novel could go so disastrously wrong at the hands of director Hyams, who is way out of his league here. Bookended by two mildly successful, albeit brief, fight scenes, the middle 95 minutes is stupefyingly boring. The film is not complete without dreary, cookie-cutter dialogue; cinematography that manages to change from picturesque to disgustingly grimy even in the same beat; characters without any depth or heart; and performances worth roughly as much as a "two-for-one" sale at Kmart. The less said about former-model Justin Chambers (2001's "The Wedding Planner"), as the title character, the better.

"The Musketeer," if anything, does feature several actors whom I have admired in the past, particularly Tim Roth (1994's "Rob Roy"), Mena Suvari (1999's "American Beauty"), and Stephen Rea (1992's "The Crying Game"). I'll give them a break by simply listing their names, rather than describing how much talent they have floundered by choosing to appear in this DOA dud. Suffice to say, "The Musketeer" has nary a bright spot in sight, with director Hyams and writer Quintano caught red-handed holding the murder weapons. Does the phrase, "worst movie of 2001," mean anything to you?

©2001 by Dustin Putman

Dustin Putman