Lively writing and direction and colorful performances make this umpteenth filming of Alexandre Dumas' durable adventure an entertaining, if less than authentic, spectacle.
In pre-revolutionary France, young, idealistic D'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell) sets out to follow in his father's footsteps by joining the King's elite guard, the Musketeers, in Paris. Meanwhile, the scheming Cardinal Richelieu (Tim Curry) has ordered the disbanding of the corps as part of his plan
to assassinate young King Louis (Hugh O'Conor). Richelieu's aim is to take over the throne, as well as the King's place in the bed of his beautiful new bride (Gabrielle Anwar, who appeared opposite O'Donnell in SCENT OF A WOMAN). Richelieu has dispatched his chief lieutenant, Rochefort (Michael
Wincott)--also the murderer of D'Artagnan's father--to arrest three remaining Musketeers, Athos (Kiefer Sutherland), Aramis (Charlie Sheen), and Porthos (Oliver Platt). He has also dispatched Athos's ex-wife, the treacherous Lady De Winter (Rebecca De Mornay), to England with a secret treaty that
would avert an imminent war and consolidate Richelieu's power.
During his first day in Paris, D'Artagnan falls in love with the Queen's lady-in-waiting Constance (Julie Delpy) and challenges each of the Musketeers, separately, to duels. When all three show up at once, at the same time that Rochefort arrives to arrest the trio, D'Artagnan fights by the side
of the Musketeers and earns their friendship. When he is later arrested, D'Artagnan discovers Richelieu's evil plan and, after escaping with the help of the Musketeers, rushes with them to Calais to head off De Winter. De Winter attempts to murder D'Artagnan but then relents, turning over the
treaty and revealing Richelieu's plot before committing suicide. The Musketeers speed back to Paris in time to head off the assassination of the King. After avenging his father's murder by killing Rochefort in a swordfight, D'Artagnan wins the love of Constance and becomes the King's first
inductee into the newly-reinstated Musketeers.
Ex-"brat packers" Sutherland and Sheen make appealing Musketeers, though their swashbuckling is unmemorable--a triumph of editing sleight-of-hand rather than genuine agility. Platt fares better with his role, drawing on the genuine comic flair that enlivened INDECENT PROPOSAL and BENNY & JOON.
Mixing a hearty sensuality with more than a little sadism, his Porthos comes most alive when he is skewering and slaughtering Richelieu's soldiers with his diabolical array of weaponry--everything from trick knives to a bola he wields like a seasoned gaucho. Of the four leads, O'Donnell displays
the most physical prowess, clearly performing many of his own stunts on horseback and in combat. On the other hand, his acting seems oddly flat next to his three co-stars.
Stephen Herek, director of the surprise hits BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE and THE MIGHTY DUCKS (starring Sheen's brother Emilio Estevez), accommodates his leads primarily by keeping O'Donnell busy in the foreground and leaving the other three to trade quips on the sidelines. David Loughery's
script combines some very contemporary-sounding wisecracks with a complex rendering of Dumas's classic storyline, to mixed effect. The physical production is impressive, with locations in and around Vienna photographed by Oscar-winner Dean Semler (DANCES WITH WOLVES). Particularly memorable is
Richelieu's labyrinthine underground prison, "played" by the Seegorotte, the largest underground lake in Europe, which provides an apt visual metaphor for the corrupt Cardinal's equally labyrinthine intrigues. But the film's greatest incidental pleasures are its supporting players. From Curry, who
plays the loathsome Richelieu with his usual gusto, to De Mornay, who clearly relishes her role as one of history's great femmes fatales, to the dryly menacing Wincott and the luminous Anwar and Delpy, there's always someone or something of interest to watch in this passably entertaining remake.
(Violence, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG
- Review: Lively writing and direction and colorful performances make this umpteenth filming of Alexandre Dumas' durable adventure an entertaining, if less than authentic, spectacle. In pre-revolutionary France, young, idealistic D'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell) sets… (more)