Every so often a movie comes along that makes you want to throw something in frustration. It’s the type of film that is so overwhelmed by its flaws and inconsistencies that no artistic merit can shine through, just a sorry excuse for entertainment and an unhappy reminder of where the motion picture industry shouldn’t end up. “The Three Musketeers,” the most recent film by Paul W.S. Anderson (“Resident Evil,” “Death Race,” everyone knows where this is going …) fits squarely within that pitiable category of failure.

The Three Musketeers

At Quality 16 and Rave
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The storyline found floating somewhere in the river of bullshit that is this movie is loosely derived from the 19th-century novel by Alexandre Dumas. It recounts the tale of a trio of King Louis XIII’s personal adventurers as they set out to defend France from the calculating Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds“).

Before beginning their quest, the musketeers are joined by would-be swashbuckler D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”), a character whose sole purpose is to add a touch of insolent brat to the mix of idiotic personalities that bring this story to life. The exact nature of the mission is muddled by an unnecessary number of plot diversions featuring flying warships and an awkward exploration of an equally uncomfortable romance between the king and queen.

Nonetheless, it eventually boils down to recovering the queen’s shiny diamond necklace, which has been planted by Cardinal Richelieu in the Tower of London in order to incite rumors of an extramarital affair involving the queen and an English royal. The whole point of this is to start a war between England and France. The Cardinal, being the more experienced wartime leader, can then seize the throne for himself when fighting breaks out. Considering the Cardinal already controls the entire army and has a formidable collection of spies within his grasp, the reason he needs to go through this entire rigmarole is beyond understanding.

Logical fallacies like this are exacerbated by a seemingly never-ending stream of senseless dialogue and sub-par acting. The musketeers, Athos (Matthew MacFayden, “Frost/Nixon”), Porthos (Ray Stevenson, “Thor”) and Aramis (Luke Evans, “Clash of the Titans”), never get a chance to exude that air of heroic masculinity one would expect from them. Rather, the listlessly frivolous demeanor put on display by the three actors suggests they’re nothing more than sidekicks in a movie named after them. Subsequently, the spotlight shines bright on Lerman, who delivers a dulled performance that falls in line with the material he’s given. Lerman tries hard, but D’Artagnan simply isn’t a likable character.

Like in most large-budget films that end up being failures, the weakest component here is the script. The jokes just aren’t funny, and the one or two parts of the screenplay meant to be dramatic elicit nothing more than a yawn. The fundamental flaw is there’s absolutely no measure of depth within the characters or the story, leaving nothing for the audience to truly care about or connect to. And without that personal connection, this mass of three-dimensional stupidity ends up being nothing more than the sum of its fractured, hollow parts.

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