IT’S been the best part of two decades since Alexandre Dumas’s legendary swordsmen declared, “All for one, one for all” on the big screen.
British director Paul W S Anderson (Resident Evil, Death Race) turns to the 3D format for his old-fashioned reworking that relies heavily on sword play to keep our pulses racing.
The cast members look fierce, duelling with their blades in slow-motion, and the body count is impressively high, albeit without a drop of spilt blood to ensure the family-friendly 12A classification.
Screenwriters Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies resort to a glaring anachronism in their pursuit of bigger, bolder thrills.
Dirigibles soar over the skies of Europe more than 100 years before the French invented them providing Anderson’s film with its set-piece skirmishes in the air rather than on land or water.
At least the leather diving dress used by Athos to creep up unseen on his adversaries in the Venetian canals harks from the right era.
D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) leaves behind his father (Dexter Fletcher) to seek his fortune in the court of young and inexperienced King Louis (Freddie Fox) and his bride Queen Anne (Juno Temple).
En route, the young man crosses paths with Porthos (Ray Stevenson), Athos (Matthew Macfadyen) and Aramis (Luke Evans), who have been disbanded.
“Bad mission, budget cuts... take your pick,” quips Athos.
D’Artagnan earns the Musketeers’ respect by challenging Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), the head of the guards, to a duel for daring to insult his beloved horse, Buttercup.
With the help of M’Lady (Milla Jovovich), D’Artagnan and the Musketeers learn of a plot masterminded by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) to impugn the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) by planting evidence to suggest that the nobleman has deflowered the Queen.
With time running out before King Louis declares war against the British, the Musketeers and their new recruit declare, “All for one, one for all” and they hatch a plan of their own to foil Richelieu and restore the lustre of the Queen’s reputation.
The Three Musketeers is a jolly romp, plying comedy, action and romance with a healthy dose of skulduggery and heaving bosoms.
Lerman is a likeable hero in training, adept with his blade but woefully outclassed when it comes to wooing maidens.
“In the battle of wits, you, sir, are unarmed,” giggles one maiden.
Stevenson, Macfadyen and Evans stride manfully through each confrontation while Jovovich proves that anything the boys can do she can do better, sliding over and beneath booby-traps or somersaulting over razor-sharp wires.
James Corden is earthy comic relief as the Musketeers’ long-suffering manservant Planchet.
The 3D is largely redundant but will doubtless be employed in an intended sequel, set up teasingly by the cliff-hanger coda.
Review by Damon Smith
3D (12A, 110 mins)
:: NO SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 6/10
Released: October 12 (UK & Ireland)